Raspberry Orange Shortbread Bars

Raspberry Orange Shortbread Bars

I have shared with you before that my love of baking began at a young age. So my family wasn’t surprised when, in high school, I told them one of my closest friends and I had dreams of starting our own bakery. At that time, we were living in a small town we loved in Alaska, but it was lacking one thing: a bakery that was open in the evenings. Fellowship over a baked treat in the afternoons and evenings with friends while chatting or studying was essential in our minds. Naturally, we made do with our own baked creations dealt out among our friends, and our friends would have loved these Raspberry Orange Shortbread Bars!

 

two raspberry orange shortbread bars laying against each other with raspberries around them
Raspberry + Orange + Sugar + Butter = Delicious!

 

The need for a raspberry creation

The last of the raspberries from our patch were just begging me to get creative. My take on raspberries is this: they are delicious on their own, but add a bit of citrus, and WOW. I took this philosophy and ran with it. I wanted something not too sweet, and a little bit on the lace doily/pretty teacup side. Voila, a raspberry shortbread bar, jazzed it up with some orange zest in the shortbread, and a splash of orange juice in the raspberry filling. These Orange Raspberry Shortbread Bars were just begging to be made.

 

Adding Orange to Raspberry Shortbread Bars

Like I said, adding orange to raspberries really ups the wow factor. These bars benefit greatly from those bright notes of citrus throughout the bar. Citrus zest is wonderful for baking, and orange zest is no exception! You can add zest to a recipe without having to worry too much about changing the overall outcome of the recipe, except for the wonderful flavor.

The best way to incorporate zest is by whisking the zest with the granulated sugar from the recipe, before mixing the sugar with the other ingredients. This releases oils from the peel (zest) and flavors the sugar, therefore spreading more of the citrus flavor you are using throughout the bars. You can read my post on Lemon Lime Bars to hear more about my love of baking with citrus zest.

Orange juice is delicious and a little goes a long ways in terms of flavor for raspberry filling in these bars. I wanted the raspberries to still be the star, but every good star has a trusty sidekick. The orange juice not only adds a little sweetness, but also an extra note that really raises these Raspberry Orange Cookie Bars to a whole different and wonderful level.

 

 

Whole pan of raspberry orange shortbread bars - this bread will rise
You will be surprised at how quickly these delicious bars disappear.

 

Raspberry Filling vs Jam

I thought raspberry jam would be a little too sweet for the filling and I wanted to use our fresh berries, so I went the extra mile and took 10 mins to make a quick raspberry filling on the stove. (If you want a sweeter raspberry recipe try my Raspberry Muffins and make sure to add the crumb topping AND the lemon drizzle!)

I despise raspberry seeds in my teeth, so I took an extra minute to strain the raspberry filling through a fine mesh strainer to get most of the seeds out.

 

Can you use a raspberry jam?

Instead of making the raspberry filling yourself, can you just use jam or jelly? Of course! I get it, especially if you are running short on time. I am a mom, I have been there. It will change the flavor a bit as the jam or jelly will be sweeter and there wont be that little bit of orange flavor in the filling, but with the orange in this delicious crust and topping – these bars will still be incredibly tasty.

 

 

Orange Raspberry Shortbread Bar Ingredients
One of the best ways to use the last of your raspberries, bar none!

 

Mouthwatering Shortbread and cozy mysteries

I love a good shortbread cookie, and shortbread cookie with the added orange zest complements the raspberry filling to perfection! I have a confession, okay not so much of a confession as an admission: I LOVE reading cozy mysteries, like a lot. These days it’s not so much reading as listening to them, because what mom has the time to read ALL the books that are just begging to be read?! Give me a cozy mystery to listen to and something to bake in the kitchen, and I’m a happy girl.

Well, one of the authors I enjoy reading is Joanne Fluke – I mean it’s about someone who owns her own cookie shop and shares cookie recipes, come on!! Back on topic, in the included recipe she always states to press cookie dough ‘with your impeccably clean hands’. Every time I press cookie dough into a pan now, I hear ‘with your impeccably clean hands’ in my head. This time pressing the shortbread was no exception. So yes, I did have ‘impeccably clean hands’, thank you very much. [Sorry if that is now stuck in your head, at least I’ll be in good company.]

 

two raspberry orange shortbread bars on a cut glass plate - this bread will rise
These bars aren’t even close to seeming like the lazy baker’s cookie, with their beautiful layers of textures and flavors.

 

Shortbread Crust and Crumble

For this recipe I used one mixture to make the base crust for the Raspberry Shortbread Bars as well as the crumble on top. To have a bit of a difference between the two layers, I just treated them different. This is like raising kids: nature vs nurture – how you treat them matters. Just kidding, shortbread is NOTHING like raising kids. 

For the base crust I firmly pressed the dough in the pan to form a sturdier foundation for this cookie. No one wants to lose their cookie to the floor! Then for the top crumble I, well, crumbled it gently on, you guessed it, the top! (I guess I didn’t need to explain that.) This created the bit of differentiation between the two layers with only having to mix one dough – hurrah for the occasional shortcut!

 

Raspberry orange shortbread bars laid out on parchment paper with raspberries - this bread will rise
And another caption about how good these taste, a girl can only think of so many clever things to say, and my husband says I should stick to the one pun per recipe rule…

 

The perfect bar cookie

Since I didn’t get to open my bakery, darn desire to be responsible, or some such nonsense, I am happy you allow me to share my baking creations with you! These bars are DEE-lightful. The shortbread is just perfectly buttery with just the right amount of crumble to it. The raspberry and orange in the filling are nailing their balancing act, and adding the orange zest to the shortbread, genius! [Wait, am I allowed to say that about myself?] These bars are also not on the overly sweet side but that light dusting of powdered sugar on top that just melts in your mouth…Yes. Please. Mmmm, these guys are my current happy place. Plenty of room for some company here in this happy place! Get baking and join me!

 

More Sweet Treats to Enjoy

Southern Peach Crisp

Cinnamon Applesauce Snack Cake

Great- Grandma’s Oatmeal Cake

Almond Amazingness Ice Cream

Plum Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Phenomenally Moist Carrot Cake

 

stack of four raspberry orange shortbread bars. this bread will rise

Raspberry Orange Shortbread Bars

Yield: 16 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Fancy AND delicious cookie bars, with a bright raspberry filling and a floral orange shortbread crust. Sure to impress and befriend.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup +1 Tbs butter - room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest (packed and generous)
  • Raspberry Filling Ingredients
  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs orange juice
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
  • Powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your 9x9 baking dish. line pan with parchment paper with the ends overhanging on just two sides (these will be your handles for super easy bar removal later). Spray the inside of the pan with the parchment paper in place.
  2. While oven is preheating make your shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl stir together the sugar and orange zest until it is really fragrant. Whisk in your flour and salt. Cube your room temperature butter and add it into your sugar mixture. Use a pastry blender to mix in the butter until the dough resembles small crumbles. (You can tell it's ready when you squish some dough in your fingers and it holds together.)
  3. Scoop out 1 cup of shortbread dough and reserve for later. Press shortbread dough into your prepared pan with 'your impeccably clean fingers' (see post). Press firmly as this is the base for your bars.
  4. Bake shortbread base in your preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. While your base is baking, make your raspberry filling. In a medium saucepan mash your 2 cups of raspberries with a potato masher or fork. Stir in 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and orange juice. Heat on medium heat, stirring frequently until simmering. Simmer for about 8 minutes. Stir together cold water and corn starch. While whisking raspberry mix constantly, pour in the corn starch slurry. Continue to stir while raspberry mixture returns to a simmer and thickens, about one to two minutes then remove from heat.
  6. Here is an optional step that I did, but the bars will still work great without it. I love raspberries but truly detest getting all of the seeds stuck in my teeth. If you want to take a minute, press your raspberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve with a spatula. Collect all of the delicious and mostly seedless mixture in a bowl under the sieve while all of those conniving seeds remain in the sieve. YES! I fully support this step, but I will also understand if you don't think raspberry seeds are evil and want to just get these delicious bars baked, and into your mouth.
  7. Take the shortbread base out of the oven after 20 minutes - it should be slightly golden brown.
  8. Plop the raspberry mixture in dollops over the shortbread, and then spread it evenly across the bars with a spatula.
  9. Crumble your reserved shortbread dough evenly over the top of your raspberry filling, but don't press down! This is key to using the same dough for two layers and getting slightly different textures between the two.
  10. Bake your bars for another 30 minutes. The bars should just be lightly golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11. When bars are completely cooled, dust lightly with powdered sugar. To easily remove and cut bars, run your knife around the edges of the bars and then gently lift the parchment paper flaps. Bars should come out easily. Cut bars into 16 delicious and irresistible treats. These bars can stay covered at room temperature for a few days. (I think these bars are just as delicious if not even better the second and third day - I had to hide a few to test this theory.)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 79mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 2g

This information was obtained using an ingredient calculator to provide an idea of nutritional value. To obtain the most accurate numbers for nutrition information of any recipe, you should figure the nutritional information with the ingredients you used in the recipe. Each individual user is responsible for making sure that any nutritional information used is correct.



6 thoughts on “Raspberry Orange Shortbread Bars”

  • I plan to make this today. Does the shortbread base get soft because of the raspberry filling? If so, would it stay crisper if I added an egg wash to the top of the shortbread base to keep the raspberry from softening it? I plan to bring to church on Sunday so two days after baking and I wondered if the base would taste “doughy” come Sunday? Thanks for your input!

    • Great question Joan, yes, the shortbread does soften a little by the second day. Mine has never gotten “doughy” just more of a softer crumb. I happen to really like it that way as well. But, if you are wanting it to stay crisper, an egg wash would probably be a good barrier between the shortbread and the raspberry, and it may help prevent the softening. If you try that method let me know what you think. Also, baking for church is such a great way to spread some joy! Happy Baking. 🙂

  • Umm… YUM! The raspberries in my garden were all gone, but I had lots of nectarines, so I just did the same recipe with nectarines instead with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Love it!!!!

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