Sweet and creamy pink frosting topped with lots and lots of sprinkles takes these Raspberry Sugar Cookie Bars over the top…right where we want to be.
Do you ever have days where you think you don’t have a spare minute to breathe, let alone force yourself to get into the kitchen to throw together another dish?
I’ve felt this way lately and I had to remind myself of a couple of things: Recipes are more than just a list of ingredients. Spending time in the kitchen is not something to dread.
A recipe is a beautiful dance and everyone sitting together to enjoy a prepared meal is more than a dinner, it’s a way of celebrating community. It’s that old “the whole is more than the collective sum of its parts” story.
That’s right. These Raspberry Cookie Bars helped me find my mojo again.
I’m reading Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy by Barbara Ehrenreich. She describes our ancient history and the beauty and benefit of collective celebrations, particularly dancing. Ehrenreich describes how tribal group dancing was a way of connecting and even played a role in human survival. “Joy, when expressed collectively, often results in dance.”
And it didn’t take long before western cultures began to describe these primitive group dance rituals as barbaric. Sinful. Shameful.
But let’s hear from the author herself as she defends tribal group dancing:
These were not spontaneous outbreaks of ‘hysteria,’ as some Europeans tended to imagine; nor were they occasions for the suspension of all inhibitions and a general ‘letting go.’ The behavior that seemed so ‘savage’ and wild to Western observers was in fact deliberately planned, organized, and at all times subject to cultural rules and expectations. — Barbara Ehrenreich, Dancing in the Streets
And, of course, reading Ehrenreich’s book made me think of food. Well, actually, lots of things can make me think of food, so it’s not as if it’s some kind of stretch.
Food also contributes to communal joy. Some of the best dishes may look a little wild to others, but like the tribal dance, has been planned and organized, and subjected to a few rules and expectations.
My takeaway from Ehrenreich’s book is that we’re all looking to connect with others in a big way. Communal dancing has been a part of that. And I don’t think anyone would argue that food has played an important role in this effort too.
We follow the rules of a recipe, create dishes that fit with cultural traditions, and eat together in celebration. Sitting around a table sharing a meal unites us. So it follows that the idea of spending time in the kitchen can be so much more than simply throwing some things together. It’s ritual-like in its application.
We are a part of that ritual when we’re cooking. Bring your playlist along and forget the streets, you can be dancing in the kitchen as well!
I’m feeling a little happy about these Raspberry Cookie Bars with Raspberry Cream Frosting topped with lots and lots of sprinkles. I thought I didn’t have the time (or energy) to make these, but I picked myself and headed to the kitchen anyway. What I learned is that time in the kitchen wasn’t a distraction from my “to do” list; it was exactly what I needed to feed my soul.
- 1 cup dairy-fee margarine, softened to room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 8 oz package vegan cream cheese, minus 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 4 tablespoons soy milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon raspberry extract (or vanilla if that's what you have handy)
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup raspberries, smashed
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup dairy-fee margarine, softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon raspberry extract
- 2 - 3 tablespoons soy milk
- 1 drop of red food coloring (optional)
- Heat your oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9X13 cake pan with vegetable spray.
- Combine the margarine and sugar in a large bowl and using a mixer, blend until creamy, approximately two minutes. Add the cream cheese, ground flax seed, corn starch, soy milk, apple cider vinegar, raspberry, and almond extract. Mix again until all ingredients are combined and the batter is light and fluffy. Add the smashed raspberries and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine.
- Using your mixer on low speed, gradually pour the flour mixture over the margarine mixture. Continue mixing until well combined.
- Press the batter into your prepared pan, making sure the batter is distributed evenly across the pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. You'll know when it's done when the top is a nice golden color. You can also use the tried and true toothpick method to test for doneness (insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake, if the toothpick comes out free of batter, the bars are done).
- When ready, place the pan on a rack and set aside to cool.
- For the Raspberry Cream Frosting, combine the margarine and cream cheese in a large bowl and using your mixer from that bars above, beat on medium high until smooth and leaning toward fluffy, about one minute.
- Now you're ready to add the powdered sugar, and raspberry extract. Beat again until everything is combined.
- Add the soy milk, one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Add the food coloring (if you're using that) and continue beating for another minute or two to make the frosting is even fluffier!
- Wait until the bars are cooled completely and then top with the Raspberry Cream Frosting.
- Top with lots and lots of sprinkles.