Preparation takes some time, but, in my opinion, making any kind of bar is simpler and less time-consuming than making cookies (all that placing individual dollops of dough and lifting them off the cookie sheet one by one :>). Made in a rimmed 10" x 15" sheet (sometimes called a jelly roll pan) and cut small, the recipe makes a generous number of bars--two platters full (the photo shows just one). One of the photos shows the kitchen tool that simplifies spreading layers--not the first time I have showed it to you. A staple in my mother-in-law's kitchen, we have these angled spreaders in several sizes. I used one about a foot long for this recipe. Then again, a kitchen knife will do.
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs (separated)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
dash salt (up to 1/4 tsp.; I use less)
1 tsp. baking powder
20 - 24 oz. jar raspberry (or other) jam
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1. Cream butter and sugar together well in large bowl.
2. Carefully separate the 3 eggs--put whites in a different, medium-sized bowl and set aside. Put yolks into the butter/sugar mixture.
3. Add vanilla and mix well again, until fluffy.
4. Sift the dry ingredients together (full disclosure; I don't bother to sift) and add gradually to creamed mixture, blending well.
5. Spread this soft pastry mixture on a 10" x 15" rimmed baking sheet and press out until firm and even.
6. Spread jam over the pastry layer, covering as well as possible. If jam is very thick, you can stir it first.
7. Beat egg whites until stiff and spread over jam with a light touch. It doesn't hurt if the jam and egg whites mix a little here and there, but they should be as separate as possible.
8. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes. Check toward end of time to keep nuts from burning. The egg whites will split here and there.
Cool in pan on wire rack. Then cut into fairly small bars (your call; I think I cut 64 bars, 8 across and 8 down).
May all your seasonal treats be sweet and beautiful. We joyfully and gratefully celebrate Christmas and wish all you other Christmas celebrators a merry and meaningful day. And we pray that all of you enjoy a happy and healthy New Year. Especially for those whose 2010 has been difficult, we pray for better times ahead.
Question of the day: What is your family's favorite holiday dish or treat?