It’s true, I haven’t been in school in five years. A working girl doesn’t know from summer vacation, and there’s no annual school supplies shopping spree at Staples anymore. I miss summer break, and, like any school supplies nerd, I miss those colored sticky tabs I used to use to mark key pages in my textbooks. After five years in the workforce, I’ve somehow managed to wean myself off the small thrills of being a student (even the discounts at JCrew, which I’d love just about now). But there’s one school-time habit that’s still going strong, one that I imagine will continue for years to come. At the profession-steeped age of 27, I’m still making myself back-to-school snacks.
Yes, friends. I may have replaced my classroom desk with a cubicle (glamorous, I know), but that doesn’t mean my weakness for school snacks has suddenly disappeared. A good fruit bar or a handful of tamari almonds or a fruit bar makes the day go by faster. When the fruit bar consists of toasty oats, pecans, and homemade jam? All the better.
I feel like I say this every week, but I have Karen DeMasco to thank for this recipe. Her book, The Craft of Baking, is the force behind many of the great things I’ve baked this year — from those cheesy scones to that lovely blueberry tart and the strawberry tart, too. These raspberry bars were yet another hit. They’ve got loads of that oat-nut-butter-sugar combo that makes crumbles and crisps so good. Only here, the stuff is on bottom and top, sandwiching a thick layer of raspberry jam. Am I saying they’re good for you? No, I’m not. Not all snacks need be healthy. Or, if you must, call it a casual, unfussy dessert. It’s really good, and it’s been the bright spot of the last 5 or 6 days at the office.
If you’ve gone back to school, make a batch of these for the next week of classes. If you’re back at the daily grind, make a batch of these for those dreary moments at work. If you’re hangin’ out with the kids, working from home or on location, or whatever, make a batch of these, or three. They’re great, always. All the time.
Back-to-School Raspberry Bars
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup raspberry preserves
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the rolled oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter until the oat mixture is thoroughly combined.
Press two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan and top with the raspberry preserves. Sprinkle the preserves with the remaining oat mixture.
Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the granola bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.