Raisin Bars

2 cups raisins

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

½ cup apple juice

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups vegetable shortening

1 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 10 x 15 inch rimmed baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper and butter again. 

To make the filling:

Place 2 cups of raisins and 1 cup of sugar in food processor. Pulse until chopped and slightly chunky. 

Transfer to a medium-sized saucepan. In a separate bowl whisk together 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 cup of cold water; whisk mixture into the raisin mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup of apple juice. Allow the pan to simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and the sugar has dissolved {about 6 minutes}. Allow to cool completely.

To make the dough:

Whisk together 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer place 1 1/4 cups of vegetable shortening. Mix on medium smooth until smooth. Add in 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar, mix until pale in color, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and mix until just combined. Reduce speed to low and add in the flour mixture. Finally, mix in 2 1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats. 

To assemble the bars:

Press half of the dough into the prepared baking sheet. Spread the raisin filling evenly over top of the dough. Crumble the remaining dough on top of the filling using your fingers {gently press it down so it covers the filling}. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the top is golden brown, approximately 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares.