Good morning, friends! I hope you all had a good week. I am so happy to share these bars today because to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure they were ever going to be making an appearance. I believe it was some time on Tuesday that I contemplated naming them the “Bars that almost got thrown out the window!” But thankfully, after numerous batches and testing God only knows how many, we have bars that are so good, the only place you’ll want to throw them is in your mouth!
I’ve come to the conclusion that when I have a new dessert in my head that I think will come together easy peasy – I somehow find a way to make it difficult. Anyway, we learn by doing and I learned a lot this week! Oh, before we get into these magical fruity bars, quick reminder about the giveaway going on from Vermont Creamery. Today is the last day to enter so get on it!
So these bars – they start out with a brown sugar shortbread crust. I’m telling you, this shortbread crust melts in your mouth! Next I topped it with a mixture of strawberry and rhubarb. If you’re not a rhubarb fan you can use all strawberries, but try the rhubarb – trust me on this. I added orange zest to the strawberry rhubarb mixture and it is the ingredient that gets the party started. It’s one of those things that you don’t think is going to do much, but adds this wonderful brightness making the whole thing pop!
Finally you top the whole thing with a generous helping of crisp topping. The brown sugar and oats create the perfect little blanket on top of all the seasonal fruit. As it bakes, the strawberries and rhubarb roast and all their flavors really come out. The crisp topping gets all golden and some of the juices from the fruit start to bubble up making it very hard to keep your hands off!
Make sure to let these cool completely before you cut them. I recommend refrigerating them over night – if you can wait that long! Once you cut them up, you’ll notice a few of the berries have broken down, but there’s lots of chunks in there, and the beautiful pink color peeking between the layers is oh so pretty! The different textures and flavors come together beautifully and the vanilla bean floating through is simply divine. One bite and you’ll be smitten.
- 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
- 12 ounces strawberries, quartered
- 12 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup AP Flour
- Spray 9 x 13" pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick again.
- Cream butter, sugar, and salt till light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla.
- Mix in flour till combined.
- Press dough into a pan and chill till firm.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes rotating halfway through.
- Pulse flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in food processor just to combine.
- Add in cubed butter & pulse till butter resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Empty topping into bowl and mix in oats. Refrigerate till ready to use.
- Cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces & quarter strawberries.
- Toss cut up rhubarb & strawberries with orange zest, vanilla bean paste and sugar.
- Add flour and toss till everyone is coated.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place strawberry rhubarb mixture on top of cooled shortbread.
- Sprinkle 2 cups crisp topping evenly over strawberries.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely in pan. Refrigerate.
Make sure the shortbread is cold when it goes in the oven. Same goes for the crisp topping.
Prepare the strawberry rhubarb 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 need to be completely cool before cutting. I recommend refrigerating over night for best results - if you can wait that long!
You can make crisp topping ahead of time and keep it in the freezer so you're prepped.