Party time! We had our youngest daughter's graduation party this weekend and - despite the crazy weather - it was a smashing success.
Even though I only prepared appetizers and desserts (we catered the main meal from Polonia Catering), I was busy all day the day before, making tons of food. We had about 50 friends and family members coming, plus my daughter had invited about 50 of her classmates and friends, too. Busy house. And when the downpour hit, everybody ran inside. Thank goodness we'd cleaned the basement and the garage! LOL
Today I want to talk about everybody's favorite part of the meal - dessert! We ordered a whipped cream cake -- half yellow with strawberries and half chocolate with white chocolate mousse filling from Creative Cakes (fabulous local bakery), but the rest was up to me. As the title of this post says, I definitely got by with a little help from my friends.
I made Cleo's Chocolate Clouds and Jenn's Chocolate Cookies as well as my own raspberry bars (recipe below). Additionally, my sister-in-law made Puppy Chow, and my good friend Rene made her famous chocolate chips, plus Hello Dollies, plus Mixed Nut bars. Tons of treats. We augmented the table with three different flavors of bite-size cheesecakes, too. Take a look at our bountiful the dessert table...
By the time the last kids left at about one in the morning, we were down to four raspberry bars left. That's it. We were cleaned out. Good thing because leftovers have a nasty way of ending up at my waistline LOL
Raspberry Bars (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
Generously grease a 9 x 13 baking pan
In a large bowl, combine:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Add in 12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
(HINT: Freeze the 1/5 sticks and then "cheese grate" them over the dry mixture. Makes this super easy to work with!)
With your fingers, smoosh the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
Add this a little at a time until mixture holds together. Not wet. You can add a teensy bit more milk if needed to make it hold together. Use your hands...makes it way easier.
Press the dough into the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan and make it smooth and even. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. I left it in for over an hour - no problem.
While this is in the fridge, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the chilled dough in the oven until the center is firm, about 12 - 15 minutes. While it's baking, prepare the streusel topping, below:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces (use the cheese grater and frozen butter. I swear it's genius! Several people suggested that to me and they know what they're talking about!)
Again, blend with your fingers.
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
Should be a really nice mess right now.
2 Tbsp milk
Add *HALF* of this wet mixture to the flour/cinnamon/almond/oatmeal/etc. bowl. Combine with your fingers until the mixture is clumpy and sticky. Set aside. Discard the other half of the egg mix.
Remove baked dough from oven. Spread raspberry preserves or jam over the top. The original recipe called for 1 cup, but I always use quite a bit more. Love my raspberry preserves! I generally use 2 12-oz cans.
The raspberry will spread easily over the hot dough. Once it's fully covered, take the streusel topping and drop little bits of it evenly over the raspberry preserves until you've used it all. The original recipe was for double the amount of streusel and I thought it was way too much. That's why there's only half an egg in the topping. Sometimes, I actually make double the streusel and freeze half for another time. Whatever works for you!
Bake this again, this time for 25 - 30 minutes until the raspberry is bubbly. Allow to cool and then serve. I like to put them in little cupcake papers. Makes it easier to serve.
These are so pretty and so delicious. They take a bit of work, but they're totally worth it!
Parties are a lot of work, but thank you to Rene (big hugs!!) for all your wonderful desserts! Thanks to s-i-l Claudia for Puppy Chow (and Jello for dinner) and thanks to my blog sisters here for the great recipes they've shared here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. What would we do without friends?
Grace Under Pressure is out now.
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