Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Raspberry Almond Squares
When you see English raspberries or strawberries in June, you really understand the point of seasonal eating. I wish that I could say that I got these from my own garden, but the first berries are just beginning to ripen on my raspberry canes. I will confess that I bought these raspberries at M & S, but the sweet, slightly tart, richly perfumed flavor said that they had definitely been recently picked. And within minutes of taking this picture, I started snacking on them! In June, I gorge myself on raspberries and skip lunch.
When raspberries are perfect, there is really nothing better than eating them by the fresh handful. It is the season of summer baked goods, though -- Sports Day, Summer Fete, Mother/Daughter Tennis Tournament -- and I need a sturdy, easy treat that will make a change from the usual brownies and flapjacks. For several weeks now, I have been tinkering with a recipe that is a version of a blonde brownie. On Sunday, I made a deliciously gooey batch and five of us "ate the lot" in less than an hour. I wouldn't necessarily think of serving a glass of icy-cold chablis with something sweet, but in the hot garden, surrounded by blooming roses, it was a truly divine combination.
Yesterday I made another batch for a tennis tournament at my daughter's school, and this time I think I've gotten the proportions just right. Unlike real brownies, they are just as good -- and deliciously squidgy and moist -- the next day. Also, they have fruit in them . . . which makes them (nearly) a healthy food, don't you think?
I made the Raspberry Almond Square in my Edge Pan. This was a Christmas present from my Mom, and we've used it a lot -- especially for brownies and banana bread. It is nonstick, and helps cook baked goods really evenly . . . no more burnt edges and underdone middles. I got the inspiration for my recipe from one of the "Edge" recipes, but I would like to think that I've made considerable improvement on the original.
Raspberry Almond Squares
6 oz unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 2/3 cup plain flour
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
grated lemon zest from one large unwaxed lemon
1 cup toasted, flaked almonds*
1 cup fresh raspberries*
** I didn't really measure the raspberries or the almonds, so this is a guesstimate. Cover the surface of the batter generously is my motto!
Preheat the oven to 350F/170C. Lightly spray or butter your non-stick pan.
Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add each of the eggs, one at a time, until well-incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and lemon zest. Then add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
Spread the batter (it will be quite thick) evenly into the pan. Cover the batter with a layer of toasted, flaked almonds, and then adorn -- generously -- with fresh raspberries.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, mine needed 45, until the top is golden. Cool in the pan and then cut into squares.
Note: although they might not come out of the pan really cleanly, these are deliciously gooey when still warm. A scoop of vanilla ice alongside would make an easy summer dessert.