I definitely have a sweet tooth. I inherited it from my dad, who has this amazing ability to eat half of a pie right before going to bed and then lose 3 pounds overnight (as luck would have it, I did not inherit that from him too.) I am one of those people who likes to have at least a little something sweet after both lunch and dinner, and I'm usually not too picky about what it is. The problem with this is that we don't always have something "little" to choose from, which leaves me with the challenge of testing my will power and portioning out just a small amount of whatever we have on hand. What I really need to do is keep a supply of something sweet but relatively healthy around specifically for these post-meal cravings (because I refuse to give up sweets altogether!)
Mom, this recipe is right up your alley.
These soft filled raspberry bars remind me of the Fig Newtons that I used to occasionally get in my lunchbox or have as an after-school snack when I was growing up. The outside is a little bit toastier tasting, thanks to the healthy addition of whole wheat flour and wheat germ, and it also has a hint of lemon that balances the sweetness of the berry jam. Applesauce eliminates the need for additional oil and helps to give the bars a cake-like texture. Because these are cut to a fairly small size, you can feel good about having a few after lunch or dinner, as an afternoon coffee break, or whenever that sweet tooth needs a "fix!" This recipe does require some rolling, trimming, and measuring, but overall the process is quite easy, and the dough is very forgiving. Here are some tips for the raspberry bars:
- These bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
- If the dough becomes too soft and it starts to stick to the work surface when you are rolling our the dough, place it back in the refrigerater for 10 minutes or until firm.
- For this recipe, you can substitute orange zest for lemon zest, strawberry or apricot jam (or pretty much any other flavor of jam) for the raspberry jam, and wheat bran or oat bran for the wheat germ.
- For easier separation of the individual bars after they have cooled, run a sharp knife through the seams immediately after removing the bars from the oven.
Whole Wheat Raspberry Bars
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
⅔ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
¼ cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
1 cup raspberry jam
Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. Put the brown sugar and the lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until combined. Beat in the butter until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl if necessary. Beat in the egg until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the applesauce. Divide the dough in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Roll out 1 piece of the dough between 2 lightly floured pieces of parchment paper to a 9 ½ by 11 ½ inch rectangle, about ⅛ inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment. Trim the dough by ½ inch on all sides. Transfer the rectangle on the parchment to a baking sheet.
Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Spread ¼ cup jam down half of each length, leaving a ½ inch border. Fold the dough over and pinch to seal. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and jam.
Cut the filled rectangles crosswise into 1 ½ inch wide bars, but do not separate until after baking. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving.