Confession time: I’m a sucker for any recipe described as “Midwestern.” For me, the term conjures images of pies cooling on windowsills, sounds of cows musing to themselves in a field just over yonder, and scents of clean breezes wafting over fields of fresh hay.
HA! JUST KIDDING! The clean and pure and wholesome country wants nothing to do with your Bad Mama Genny.
But really, I do stop for a second look at recipes like these because they remind me of the home-y and decadent desserts I was raised on, desserts rich with the sweetness of fruit and often topped with a crumbly, crispy, textured THING happening, thanks to the addition of oats and whole grains. And, uh, oh yeah–the unmistakable taste of butter was in there, too.
With a few leeeeeetle revisions.
You see, friends, through extensive experimentation, it’s come to my attention that most dessert recipes call for a little more sugar than I really need. I often cut the sugar in a recipe by as much as a third. And it’s still good. To compensate, I’ll sometimes up the fruit content and include more whole grains, which add a nuttiness and depth of flavor that white flour just can’t touch. The sugar that I do use is raw, which adds a certain je ne sais quoi that you can’t find in ordinary, heavily-processed granulated sugar.
So I edited the recipe to my liking to include more whole grains, more raisins, less sugar (and less refined sugar), and highly probiotic plain kefir or plain whole milk yogurt instead of sour cream (a swap which cuts out a bit of fat and calories and ups the tang factor, not that I have anything against sour cream OH HO NO I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT but sour cream has something against me READ: I AM A LACTARD). I also cut the recipe in half since The Boy is notoriously bad at helping me eat dessert. He prefers to drink it. In the form of beer.
Thanks a lot for not helping your darlin’ eat dessert, The Boy. I hope you like FUCKING LOVE HANDLES!
Oh, you do? Why, thank you, The Boy, you’ve made my day, my, oh, my, how you DO look nice in those worn denim overalls of yours! What’s say you and I disappear with a pan of raisin bars behind one of these here hay bales and not reappear until this here pan is empty and I’m a’blushin’ real hard?
But The Boy doesn’t wear overalls. That’s okay. I don’t blush, either.
Sour Cream/Kefir/Yogurt Raisin Bars
Makes and 8 x 8 pan of bars
1 1/4 cups raisins
3/4 Cup old-fashioned oats, plus 2 Tablespoons
3/4 cup whole wheat flour, plus 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup raw sugar or evaporated cane juice (plus an additional half cup for the filling)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick organic/grass-fed butter, softened
2 beaten egg yolks
1 Tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup plain kefir or plain whole milk yogurt or sour cream
Soak the raisins in a bowl of hot water to fatten them up. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 350 and generously butter a square baking dish (approx. 8 x 8 inches). Mix the oats, flour, 1/2 cup of the raw sugar, and baking soda. Now use your fingers to squeeze the butter into the mixture. Don’t take things so far that the butter is melted–just make sure little bits of butter are distributed throughout and that the mixture is crumbly. Measure 3/4 cup of the mixture and set it aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of your baking pan and set it into the oven to bake for about 10 minutes.
Now mix the yolks, the other 1/2 cup of raw sugar, the cornstarch, and the kefir/sour cream/yogurt. Heat the pan over a medium-low flame, stirring occasionally, until it’s thickened. The original recipe mentions 15 minutes–mine took less than half of that time to get where it needed to be, so check frequently. Dump in the raisins and mix it all together. Smile.
Once your crust is done baking, pull it out and pour the kefir/raisin mixture over it. Spread it evenly over the crust and bake this for about 10 minutes (the middle will still look pretty loose). Take the bars out and crumble the remaining oat mixture evenly over the bars. Put them back into the oven and bake until the creamy filling is set and the crumble topping is starting to turn golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Pull your bars out and allow the pan to cool on a wire rack.
Wait until these are cool to cut them, or you’ll end up with a bit of a mess. Alternatively, follow my bad example and take a spoon to them when they’re just the teensiest bit cooler than lava.
What can I say? I know what I like.