We bake a lot of cookies at my house—because some of us (read: me!) love them for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. But to rationalize whipping up big batches of dough on a regular basis, we stir in plenty of healthy ingredients—wheat germ, oatmeal, flaxseed, chopped walnuts, and colorful add-ins like dried cherries or cranberries, or raspberry jam, which gives these cookies a gorgeous color. What we really like about these cookies, however, is that they’re easy. Just pour the ingredients into a pan, bake, and then cut them into bars that are as big or as small as you like (no rolling, cutting out shapes, or dropping dollops of dough from a spoon).
While raspberry jam is a staple for us, you can replace it here with your kids’ favorite. You can make these bars with minimal mess—even if you let your kids press the easy-to-work-with dough into a baking pan, add the jam, and finish with a topping of dough that turns into delicious, buttery crumbs. Serve these treats for a tasty breakfast, a terrific lunchbox surprise, an awesome after-school snack, or an after-dinner dessert for kids of all ages.
Nonstick cooking spray for the pan
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups quick-cooking oatmeal (uncooked)
1½ cups seedless raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat butter with brown sugar until the mixture is soft and pale yellow.
- Help your child measure flour, salt, baking soda, and oats, pour into a medium bowl, and stir with a large spoon.Teachable Moment: What does baking soda do?Baking soda helps make dough rise, creating a light, flaky texture when the baking is finished. Baking soda does this by reacting with acids from other ingredients (here, brown sugar). That chemical reaction makes carbon dioxide gas. You may have seen this reaction: it makes a lot of foam when baking soda is mixed with vinegar, which contains an acid. Little bubbles of the gas form in the dough, which make the dough puff up, or “rise.”—Andy Boyles
- Transfer the mixture to the large bowl. Beat for about 1 minute or until no traces of flour are visible. Measure 1 cup of dough (it will be crumbly) and set aside. Transfer remaining dough to the prepared baking pan.
- Have your child press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Let her help you measure the jam and spread it over the dough in the pan. Leave a ¼-inch margin around the edges. With your child, sprinkle the 1 cup of reserved dough over the jam.Teachable Moment: How is raspberry jam made?Jam is made by heating fruit, in this case raspberries, while mixing in sugar. Heat breaks down the natural glue that holds the berries together. Stirring spreads that glue—called pectin—throughout the mixture. When the mixture cools, the pectin forms a jiggly, sponge-like mass, with water, sugar, and bits of fruit trapped in its tiny spaces—and that’s jam. –Andy Boyles
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool for about ½ hour. Cut into bars.**
*Be careful not to overbake the raspberry bars. When baking time is up, check for doneness by gently shaking the pan. The jam should jiggle just a little but will firm up as the cookies cool.
**You can store these cookies for up to 3 days in an airtight container, or freeze them for about 1 month.