Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars and dreams of a backyard farm

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It never seems to fail, the May 24 weekend is too cold to plant — again. At least we didn’t get hit with rain — or snow! After this winter, it could have been possible. Instead of planting, I am gazing at my seedlings dreaming of what our backyard gardens will look in just a few months.

Yesterday wasn’t totally unproductive in terms of gardening however. It’s the long weekend and there are plant sales every where. I chose two that I knew of that were selling organic, heirloom seedlings just a short drive away, Linda Crago’s Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Wellandport (the sale continues today until 3 p.m.) and The Sentimental Farm in Grimsby, which is operated by Rob and Chris Croley. Today I picked up a few new tomato varieties (one called Isis, how could I resist?), a hot pepper, some different kales, mint and the best raspberry jam that I have ever had. If you live near Grimsby, I suggest you head to the Sentimental Farm on Ridge Road and pick up a jar of Chris’ raspberry jam, it is amazing and this is coming from someone who rarely reaches for jam.

With two jars of this amazing jam now in my possession I was inspired to bake. Since I can’t plant food, I might as well cook it. I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration and came across these Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars from Deliciously Sprinkled that I had pinned a while back. While the original recipe calls for whole raspberries it suggests you can use jam if you don’t have fresh or frozen, so I subbed in the delicious jam with fair trade chocolate chips and organic ingredients. The only non “clean” ingredient I used was the condensed milk as there was no organic version available at my local grocery store. Anyone know of a good alternative to condensed milk?

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Here is my take on the recipe

For the crust and crumble

  • 1 Cup organic, unsalted butter
  • 2 Cups organic, all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the layer of chocolate

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Cup organic, fair trade chocolate chips

For topping

  • Seedless Raspberry Jam from the Sentimental Farm
  • more chocolate chips
  • left over dough

Set oven to 350.

Cream butter in a mixer. Add flour, brown sugar and salt and mix until it forms a crumbly dough (make sure you add the whole 2 cups. I initially didn’t and could not figure out why it was so creamy not crumbly). Press the crumbly dough into the bottom of a greased baking pan. Mine was about an inch and a half thick. Bake 15 minutes.

While the bottom layer is baking, pour the can of condensed milk in a saucepan with a cup of chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet. Heat, stirring constantly until combined.

When crust is golden, remove it from the oven and top with the delicious, chocolate. Top this with left over crumb, blobs of jam and more chocolate chips.

Bake 30 minutes.

Let it cool, slice and indulge. These pie bars are a perfect combination of indulgent chocolate, buttery shortbread and tart raspberries. I will definitely be making these ones again. Picky to Plenty’s official taste tester approves. He says the edges are especially tasty. He says this is one of the best desserts I have ever made.

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