Friday, October 13, 2017

Apple Raspberry Cookie Bars and A Book Review

I just finished listening to The Dry by Jane Harper.  This novel takes place in the Outbacks of Australia during a terrible drought that is affecting everyone in the small hometown of Aaron Falk.

Front Cover

This is a debut novel for Jane Harper and it left me happily anticipating her next.  Aaron Falk is a police investigator in Melbourne when he is called back home to the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler.  

Luke was found dead presumed by suicide after killing his wife and his son.  Luke's year old daughter was left unharmed.  Aaron and his father had fled their home twenty years earlier after Aaron's girlfriend was found drowned under suspicious circumstances.  Aaron was the prime suspect and would have been charged had it not been for Luke providing him with an alibi that they had been hunting together the afternoon of the girlfriend's disappearance.

Aaron had no plans of ever returning to that town until he got the letter from Luke's father.  "Luke lied, you lied.  Be at the Funeral."  What follows is the story of a twenty year old mystery interwoven with the disturbing facts of this recent murder/suicide.  

The facts don't add up for Luke's mother, who was the closest thing that Aaron had to a mom when he was growing up.  Nor do they add up for Aaron and the newly assigned police chief in town.  How do you find answers in a town buried so deeply in secrets??

This novel, being set during a terrible drought did not have a lot of food on the pages but there was some.  Sheep farmers serving lamb, sandwiches bought at the market, rabbits being hunted and Aaron's memories of Mrs. Hadler's dinners and home baked goodies.  Aaron having no memories of his own mother has fond memories of the cakes and cookies provided by Mrs. Hadler.

I decided to bake up some cookies myself after reading this novel.  I give both the novel and the cookie bars a solid 4 stars. Since I did make a recipe inspired by this novel I will be sharing it with Foodies Read 2017.

With a shortbread cookie crust, a layer of fresh apples and raspberries, topped by a shortbread cookie crumble these bars perfect for serving up to family and friends when they come home from a tough day of school or work.

We had been invited to our daughter's new boyfriend's family's house for dinner one evening and I brought these for dessert.  They were a big hit.  

Apple Raspberry Cookie Bars
slightly adapted from My Magazine by Kroger

1 c. flour
1 c. almond flour
pinch of salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. sugar, divided + 1 T. for sprinkling
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 t. lemon zest
1/4 t. almond extract
3 asst. apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (I used Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and McIntosh)
6 oz. fresh raspberries
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Combine both flours, salt, baking powder and 1/2 c. of sugar in a large bowl.  Combine the butter, egg, zest and almond extract in a small bowl.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and, using clean hands, combine to make a soft dough.  

Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of a 9" square baking pan that has been treated with baking spray.  Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Toss the apples and raspberries with the remaining 1/2 c. of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  When bottom crust is removed from oven, sprinkle the fruit evenly over the crust.  Crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough over the fruit and sprinkle with 1 T. of sugar.  Return to the oven and bake for half an hour, until golden brown.  Print Recipe


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