Sure, we can technically call these granola bars because they’re made of oats and nuts and cut into rectangles, but in practice they’re more like the crumbly top layer of a fruit crisp, made into a sandwich cookie. And despite their hunky granola-like ingredient list and a near absence of technique, they have the lightness of a fine, sandy shortbread cookie. I suspect this is due to the unusual addition of flour and a little more butter than usual, and because pastry chef Karen DeMasco really knows what she’s doing.
The first time I made these, ostensibly for friends who were coming to town, the bars were gone before they’d even finished cooling. I had to bake them again the next day, and I was able to stir them together in 10 minutes, hardly looking at the recipe. I tell you this because it will happen to you, too, and now you know that you don’t have to be too threatening when scavengers start to hover. Just pull out another jar of jam (or a mix of a few) and a hidden stash of nuts, because any combination will work, and give this delicate granola bar–ish framework new character. Excerpted from Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook (Ten Speed Press, 2018). —Genius Recipes
Watch This Recipe
Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars From Karen DeMasco
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C), with a rack in the center. Butter an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch (2.5cm) overhang on two opposite sides for easier lifting when the bars are done. Butter the parchment. Spread the pecans in a pie plate or on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk together the flour, oats, sugars, salt, baking soda, and cooled pecans in large bowl. Pour in the melted butter, and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir until well combined.
Press two-thirds of the oat mixture (about 3 cups/470g) into an even, firmly packed layer on the bottom of the baking pan. Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the raspberry jam evenly across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch (6mm) border uncovered at the edges (the jam will melt and spread closer to the edges). Evenly sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the jam.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the granola bars cool completely in the pan on a rack, about 3 hours. (Or go ahead and sneak one while they’re still warm—they’ll be a little crumbly but so good.) Lift up the overhanging ends of the parchment paper and transfer the granola almost-bars to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch (5cm) squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore.