These Raspberry Bars are a sweet, bright, and buttery dessert. We layer raspberry jam between two layers of shortbread. The top layer of shortbread has a couple of fun additions -- granola and almonds, which add even more flavor and a fun texture to these bars!
PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal; set aside.
SHORTBREAD: In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer), add the butter (straight from the fridge) and white sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Once the mixture is fully creamed together, add in the vanilla extract, lemon zest (optional), and salt. Beat to combine. Add in the flour and beat until just combined into a thick dough. Do not overmix.
JAM: Press a little over half of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the raspberry jam over the dough into one even layer. Avoid the very edges (leave ~1/4th inch border).
SHORTBREAD: To the remaining shortbread mixture, add the granola and beat to integrate. Drop small pieces of this dough over the raspberry jam. Sprinkle almonds evenly on top. Bake for 42-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and almonds are nicely toasted. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature. (The bars need to cool to fully set up.)
ENJOY: Use the overhang of the parchment paper to pull the bars from the pan and place onto a cutting board. Cut into squares and enjoy. They're best enjoyed within 1-2 days (the jam softens the shortbread).
Note 1: Butter: We recommend good-quality butter since it's really the star of the shortbread. The better the butter, the better the flavor of the dough! We love and use this butter. For the proper texture and creaming, the colder the butter, the better (this is a little tricky with a hand mixer, but it creams easily in a stand mixer).Note 2: Jam: The better the jam, the better the flavor! We love Bonne Maman's® jams. Also, you can swap raspberry jam for a different flavor. We've made these bars with wild blueberry preserves and this 4-fruit preserves and loved both iterations! Use a seedlessjam if seeds bother you!Note 3: Granola: Any granola without dried fruit in it will work great. We're partial to this easy granola recipe but any store-bought granola you enjoy will be tasty!Note 4: Almonds: Regular sliced almonds are perfect in this recipe. One time I was out and made them with these honey almonds and that was a fun flavor add!