Disappearing returns: Raspberry-oat bar cookies

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Among the easiest cookies you can possibly make, raspberry-oat bars are also versatile (just substitute raspberry jam for some other jam or dulce de leche or whatever you want. They are pretty good with cherry!). I make these bar cookies all the time.

The funny thing is that I used too much jam this time so some of the middle bars got sticky and gooey – not the nice crispish crust these bar cookies should have. But it didn’t matter. These were still among the first cookies gone during the recent big bake to end 2013.

Definitely one of the easiest things anyone can make on their own.

Already depleted plate of raspberry-oat-bar cookies

Already depleted plate of raspberry-oat-bar cookies

Raspberry-oar bars
3/4 cup raspberry jam (I am not sure I measured this. I simply bought a jar of raspberry jam, strained the seeds out and used everything that was left)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oats

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add flour; mix. Add oats, and stir to combine. Spread 2/3 of this mixture in a 9×12 rectangular pan, and press it firmly down with fingers.

Spread the jam on top but do not let the jam touch the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the rest of flour-oat mix over the top.

Bake 35-40 minutes. Cut into small bars. Or big bars, if you prefer.

Ambition above reality

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In much the same way as people’s eyes are often bigger than their stomachs, my baking ambitions often far outstrip my capacity to deliver.

That said, my current ambitions for the big intro bake of autumn include (potentially):

Shortbread
Carrot-sandwich cookies
Anzac biscuits
Dark chocolate hazelnut mini tarts
Cranberry-pistachio biscotti
Tart cherry, blueberry and toasted pine nut biscotti
Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies
Smil-filled chocolate cookies
Samoa cookies
Nanaimo bars
Mini cheesecakes with Oreo crust
Oatmeal lemon cream bars*
Caramel apple crumble bars*
Kahlua coffee cupcakes*
Malt chocolate cupcakes*
Brown sugar cupcakes with maple frosting and candied bacon*
Carrot pineapple spice cupcakes*

* means this will be a new/experimental recipe for me
I might also make the tired “normal” cookies, such as M&M cookies and white chocolate macadamia cookies. Perhaps something with peanut butter because I seem to have a lot of peanut butter on hand right now … but want to do something different than just standard peanut butter cookies. I will think about it.

Old friends and old standbys: Snickerdoodles, M&M cookies and Daim cookies

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All-or-nothing nature, mistakes and poetry: Oat fudge bars

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Raspberry-oat bars

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Among the easiest cookies a person can ever make: raspberry-oat bars, also known as “matrimonial bars”. Anyone can make these; they are absolutely not difficult. Few ingredients, very simple instructions. Very hard to go wrong. You can also substitute a different flavor of jam if you would like. I think raspberry happens to fit here very well, but many people enjoy date or fig as an alternative. I have used both in the past as well as once trying a caramel/milk jam/dulce de leche filling.

Raspberry-oat bar cookies
3/4 cup raspberry jam (I am not sure I measured this. I simply bought a jar of raspberry jam, strained the seeds out and used everything that was left)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oats

Preheat oven to 325F.
Cream butter and brown sugar. Add flour; mix. Add oats, and stir to combine.
Spread 2/3 of this mixture in a 9×12 rectangular pan, and press it firmly down with fingers.
Spread the jam on top but do not let the jam touch the sides of the pan.
Sprinkle the rest of flour-oat mix over the top.
Bake 35-40 minutes. Cut into bars.

In the office…

Baked goods: ANZAC biscuits

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It’s not ANZAC Day, it’s not Australia Day. I am not someone from Australia or New Zealand. But back when I lived in Iceland, my best friends were Australians, and we sometimes celebrated Australian events, and I adopted the habit of baking ANZAC biscuits pretty much all the time. They are quite simple and keep/mail well. Given that I was extending the experiment of mailing cookies to other offices on other continents, it seemed wise to include hardier, sturdier cookies in the mix. I have no idea whether the cookies I make in any way resemble actual ANZAC biscuits, but people eat and love them regardless. I am not terribly concerned with authenticity.

Of course, the concept of “baking authenticity” is sort of interesting. I remember promising to bake cookies for an old friend in Iceland. When I finally did, he took one look at the cookies, made a rather unpleasant face and said, “Those aren’t cookies, those are American.” What did he expect? That I would make the hard little dog biscuits Icelanders call cookies? I AM American after all.

For me, authenticity probably comes mostly from the intent of the baker. Even if they are baking from (heaven forbid) a mix, it is more about whether they enjoy what they are doing. While I eschew the evil baking mix, I encourage baking of all kinds.

ANZAC biscuits
Ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal), uncooked
1 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
2 Tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Combine flour, oats, coconut and sugar in a bowl.
Melt the butter and golden syrup or honey in a saucepan over low heat.
Mix the bicarb of soda with the boiling water and add to the butter and golden syrup mixture.
Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Spoon tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between to allow for spreading.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. (Mine usually take less than this, so keep an eye on them.)
Cool on a wire rack and seal in airtight containers.