Bar cookies are my favorite of the cookie family. I have a tiny apartment oven and I am prone to clutter. This means most varieties of cookies are not ideal because I can’t fit as many in the oven at once, can’t see them cooking, and can’t find enough clear surfaces to cool them on once they are done….provided I haven’t burned them.
None of this matters with bar cookies. In they go, out they come. Cool, lift, cut.
My large Italian family recently celebrated my great, great Uncle Jimmy’s 97th birthday and I made a pan of Raspberry Walnut Shortbread Squares to bring to the celebration. Uncle Jim is our patriarch and a true inspiration. His age hasn’t slowed down his memory, sense of humor, or (above all else) his love for his family.
After he had blown out his candles, he stood up to say a few words. He thanked us and asked “What is it that I always tell you is the most important thing?” and everyone in the room chorused “FAMILY!”.
It was terrific. So was seeing my Nana pose in a hug with Uncle Jim in front of his birthday banner, and hearing my mom call out, “Hey! She never hugs any of us like that!”
Uncle Jim celebrating 75 years with my Nana Alice.
I feel so grateful that I have been able to visit with him more these past few years, and hear firsthand stories about my Great Great Grandparents (his parents) and my Papa (his nephew).
It was a lovely party, with the expected abundance of food. Like these squares!
If you enjoy a dense shortbread crust topped with a thin layer of raspberry jam, then an even thicker layer of brown sugar and walnuts the consistency of pecan-pie…you will love them. I promise.
I loved them so much I sent the extras home with my mom so she could battle her willpower against them instead of me. I know I will be making these again, so they can get me next time.
Raspberry Walnut Shortbread Squares
Adapted from Taste of Home
1 1/4 cups, plus 2 Tbsp. flour – divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 inch baking pan with parchment or non-stick foil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour and sugar. Add butter and combine using pastry blender or two knives until butter pieces are the size of peas.
- Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
- Transfer to a wire rack and spread the jam over the hot crust. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Combine 2 Tbsp. of flour and baking soda, and stir into eggs mixture until just combined.
- Fold in nuts, and spread evenly over the jam layer.
- Bake for another 20-25 minutes until golden brown and set. Cool completely before cutting.
Note: I would caution you to make sure the filling is properly set before you remove the pan to cool. I think mine could have cooked a few moments longer, so I had to chill it in the fridge overnight for it to be firm enough to cut into squares.