RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD // the local food report

Let's cut straight to the chase: Ellie Arsenault makes the best shortbread I've ever had. She sells at the Orleans Farmers' Market—she's the one standing in for Gretel's mom this July and August—and she makes mostly Finnish pastries. She grew up in a small town—Royalton, in Western Massachusetts—and her father owned the local grocery store. There were a lot of Finnish imigrants in town, and as Ellie got to know them at the market, she also got to know their recipes.

What you see up there starts with the dough. She mixes flour and butter, a couple egg yolks and some vanilla and brown sugar. She presses the dough into the pan and spreads her homemade raspberry jam—that she makes from her own berries—on top. Then she sprinkles it with coconut flakes and chopped walnuts, and puts it in the oven. It's about as simple as it gets.

Raspberries are coming back into season. And with this recipe in my repertoire, I'm thinking jam. 


Ellie says the Finns usually make something like this as tarts, but to her that seems like a lot of work. The bar version is simple as can be and just as tasty. For the raspberry preserves, Ellie likes jam, not jelly. It's all about the texture of the berries. Also, she says other jams work too—strawberry, peach, blackberry—you name it.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup light brown sugar
a 12 ounce jar of raspberry preserves
a handful of chopped walnuts
a handful of shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the flour, butter, egg yolks, vanilla, and brown sugar until they form a dough. Press the dough evenly across the bottom of a 9" by 15" Pyrex baking dish. Spread the raspberry jam evenly over top, then sprinkle with the walnuts and coconut. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the pan out and turn the oven off. Cut the shortbread into bars, then return the pan to the still-hot oven for 15 minutes to allow the jam to set. Serve at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

I live in that general area, and Finnish descendants abound. Their way with sweets is legend, with good reason! Nisu is my favorite - a sweet bread flavored with cardamom.

Anonymous said...

This looks AMAZINGLY good -- thank you! ~A Maine Reader

Unknown said...

Great article, but the town is Royalston, not Royalton. It's in north central Massachusetts along the New Hampshire border.

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