So a few of our local Pittsburgh buddies are having a BBQ competition this evening (more on that to come) to compete for glory and ultimate bragging rights. I don’t know too many of the details yet, but my understanding is that there will be infinite amounts of pork shoulder and other smoked meats.
My thought process in choosing what to make to bring along went something like this:
“What do a bunch of manly men standing over meat and comparing the size of their…smokers…. really want in addition to their manly meal? Dainty lemon-raspberry bars, with a subtle kiss of powdered sugar! Perfect!”
Actually, that wasn’t my thought process. If it had been, I maybe would have chosen to make something different. I just completely forgot the context of the event and its likely attendants.
My actual thought process was:
“What kind of light, summery dessert can I bring to an outdoor event that won’t melt all over the place and will show off seasonal ingredients?? Dainty lemon-raspberry bars, with a subtle kiss of powdered sugar! Perfect!”
OK, well since I’ve committed to this dessert, I’m going to make these men forget themselves for a minute and partake in true bite of summery heaven.
Start by cranking your oven to up to 350 degrees and prepare your 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan with a sheet aluminum foil, leaving an overhang.
In a large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed until it just begins to blend and soften slightly, about 30 seconds.
Add brown sugar and salt, beat on low-speed until incorporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. You don’t want to overbeat the mixture; you just want to incorporate the sugar and salt.
With mixer off, add the 2 cups flour. Beat on low-speed until flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium, mix until ingredients form an even, cohesive dough. The dough will progress as such:
Distribute the dough in the foiled baking pan, using your fingers to press into an even layer. Bake 20 minutes or until dough has begun to puff and is just set. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes.
Lightly brush exposed sides of foil with softened butter to keep filling from sticking. I like to put a little bowl with the brushing butter on top of the oven while the shortbread crust is baking – it helps get the butter nice and soft, faster.
Spread the raspberry jam evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the raspberries.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and goat cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.
I know you’re thinking “goat cheese? really? that doesn’t sound right…” I had the same reservations. I called my mom up (she gave me the recipe) and she vouched for the goat cheese, adding that it adds an interesting, savory element to the dessert. If you’re really freaked out by it, you can add 4 oz of cream cheese instead, but honestly, have faith in the goat cheese….
Mix in the sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour until blended. With mixer running, add egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Pour the custard batter over the berries, tilting the pan back and forth to distribute evenly across the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until barely set. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool, about 1 hour; cover and transfer to refrigerator. Chill 2 hours. Top will crack slightly as it cools.
Use foil to lift the bars from pan. With a knife or metal spatula, support the sides of the bars while you gently peel the foil downward and away from sides of the bars.
Cut into 24 bars. Sprinkle very lightly with powdered sugar.
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Softened butter (for brushing sides of foil) – about 1 tablespoon
- 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam or preserves
- 1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries
- 1/2 of an 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz. goat cheese (chévre) or 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel (zest)
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
Makes 24 Bars
Original Recipe available at Better Homes and Gardens