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Reverse Engineered Sour Cream Raisin Bars

January 2, 2013

So, the co-op grocery store in my neighborhood has this really great bakery aisle. They sell brownies and cookies individually wrapped in plastic wrap that they get from a bakery in St. Paul – and these are big fat brownies, covered in peppermint frosting and just as dense and squidgy as homemade ones. Sometimes there’s weird stuff there, like these cookie bars called hobnails and Almond Joy cookies. And every once in a while, if you hit the co-op at just the right time, you can find sour cream raisin bars.

They resemble no other cookie bar I’ve had, really. They have this pudding-like layer in the middle, the bottom is like a cake, and the top is sort of like a granola bar. Out of curiosity and since they don’t have them for sale at the co-op all the time, I decided to try and recreate them.

This is a more complicated recipe than I usually post, but the bars are well worth it.

Reverse-Engineered Sour Cream Raisin Bars

To start this recipe, you’re going to need five bowls.

IMG_11471. Cake Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash salt

Just stir ’em together.

IMG_11512. Cake wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together the butter and the sugar until the mixture is creamy (if you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a pastry blender for this). Then add the egg, sour cream, and vanilla, and mix it up until it’s completely blended.


3. Raisins

  • 2 cups of raisins

Pour warm water over the raisins until they are completely covered. Set them aside somewhere where they can soak.

IMG_11494. Granola topping

  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Just stir ’em together.

IMG_11485. The Pudding

  • 3 egg yolks (how to separate an egg)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Put everything but the vanilla in a saucepan, but don’t turn the heat on just yet.

Now that you’ve got everything set up, you’re ready for the cooking part of the recipe. (Please, have everything set up before you start because this part goes fast!) Grease a 9″ by 12″ baking dish and set the oven to 350°. Add the cake dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until the lumps are gone. It should be a pretty thick batter, which you spread out in the bottom of the baking dish. Put it in the oven.

The cake needs to cook for about ten minutes, or until the cake in the middle of the pan starts looking dry on top. In the meanwhile, start cooking the pudding. Put the pan of pudding stuff onto medium heat and stir it often. It’ll look like this.


Keep heating and stirring until it starts to get thick. If you need to take the cake out of the oven and set it aside, go ahead and do that. Once the pudding is thick, drain the raisins and mix them in. Turn off the heat, mix in the vanilla.


Next, it’s time to assemble the bars. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of this, but I was working fast. Take half of the granola mixture and sprinkle it onto the cake. Then put dollops of the pudding around the pan on top of the granola. Very gently, spread the dollops out so they make an even layer. Sprinkle on the rest of the granola mixture and pat it in.

Now you’re ready to bake!IMG_1157

Everything is already fully cooked at this point, so all you really need is for the flavors to meld and for the granola to get toasty brown and delicious. I found 20 minutes worked well.

Let the bars cool before you try to slice them. When it’s all done, here is what you get:


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