Happy Friday, friends! Big plans this weekend? You may just want to make some adjustments! I’ve got Spring in bar form right here and I’ve got a feeling these strawberry crisp bars are not going to take too much convincing! My favorite brown sugar shortbread topped with beautiful strawberries, which might’ve been getting cozy with some Grand Marnier, all tucked under a blanket of crisp topping. Who’s bringing the ice cream?
I think you guys are well aware that I love turning my favorite desserts into bars. First there was apple crisp bars, which then turned into apple crisp cheesecake bars (OMG!) and then there was the dreamy strawberry rhubarb cheesecake bars. I love them all, but I think I have a new favorite! Strawberries are already beautiful right now and as soon as I got my hands on some, I knew I wanted to make a simple dessert that really highlighted them.
Something buttery and jammy and kind of sticky and bursting with strawberry flavor – I think we got it!
So the bars are really straight forward. The shortbread is made with brown sugar so it’s full of warmth and it’s speckled with vanilla beans – always a good starting point. The star of this show is definitely the strawberries. I tossed them with a bit of sugar, more vanilla beans, and the key ingredient, the zest of an orange. The orange zest adds such a brightness, and is the one ingredient that makes the bars pop.
The Grand Marnier doesn’t hurt either!
When you take them out of the oven, they will be golden and the juices from the strawberries will be bubbling up through the crisp topping. It will take everything in your power not to dive in immediately, but they are much better if you let them cool – says the girl who grabbed a spoon and dove in about 3 minutes out of the oven and burned her mouth…
On a side note, do you see those dark spots along the outer edge of the bar pictured above? Those jammy bits are everything!
My biggest tip with these is to taste the strawberries first. Four tablespoons of sugar was perfect for me, but yours may need an extra spoon. These bars bake up best when you use ripe strawberries. Some of mine were on their last leg, so they lost a bit of that bite. You’re also going to want to keep an eye on your bake time. I left these in the oven for close to 45 minutes and I think they would have been perfect at 40 minutes. This all goes back to the berries, but a few minutes either way, they’re still SO delicious! Happy baking!
Brown sugar shortbread covered with juicy strawberries, all tucked under a blanket of crisp topping!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, cold & cubed
- 2 lbs. strawberries, quartered
- zest of 1 orange or lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier (can be omitted)
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose Flour
- Spray 9 x 13" pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick again.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla and continue to mix.
- Mix in flour until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary
- Press dough into prepared pan and chill until firm.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 23-25 minutes rotating halfway through.
- Pulse flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in food processor just to combine.
- Add in cubed butter & pulse until butter resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Empty topping into a bowl and mix in oats. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Quarter strawberries and toss with orange zest, vanilla bean paste, Grand Marnier and sugar.
- Add flour and toss until strawberries are coated.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spoon strawberry mixture on top of cooled shortbread.
- Sprinkle crisp topping evenly over strawberries.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Start checking them at 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely in pan.
Bars are best the day they are made.
Make sure the shortbread is cold when it goes in the oven. Same goes for the crisp topping.
Prepare the strawberry layer when you are ready to use it. You don't want it hanging out too long because the juices will start to release & this is one time we don't want that to happen.
Bars are much easier to cut when they are completely cool.
You can make crisp topping ahead of time and keep it in the freezer so you're prepped.