Sunday, June 2, 2013
"Oh lush
lips of wild plum,
of tender
dust on dust,
coppery red
- from "Ode to Summer" by Pablo Neruda

Nothing says the beginning of summer like strawberries.  I grew up in southwestern Ontario, and the strawberry crop always came just in time for my sister's mid-June birthday.  It was the first of the summer fruit - raspberries, blueberries, peaches - and we couldn't get enough of them.  We'd run out to the garden in our bare feet and come in with a bowlful of berries for dinner.  One or two of them might have been eaten along the way.

One of the great surprises of my adulthood was developing an intolerance to strawberries.  I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the huge quantity I ate as a child. So now fresh strawberries are off-limits.  But for some reason, I can eat them in any other format - if they've been frozen, made into jam or, like in these bars, cooked.

That's what makes this a perfect beginning-of-summer recipe for me. It's the best way I've found to take me back to the days when I was a child, and ate strawberries with joy.

"In the afternoon,
makes clover
dance; it enters
the deserted factory:
a fresh star
the cloudy
A summer night
- from "Ode to Summer" by Pablo Neruda

Brown Butter Strawberry Streusel Bars

For the crust and crumb topping
1 cup plus 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup sugar (first amount)
1/4 cup sugar (second amount)
pinch salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

For the Strawberry filling
3 heaping cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp red wine (you can replace with water, if you like)

Line a 9” x 13” pan with parchment paper.

To prepare the crust:
Brown the butter (see here for directions on browning butter).  Let cool to room temperature. 
In a large bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, 3/4 cup sugar and salt.  Stir until well-blended.  Add yolks and almond extract and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the flour until you have a stiff dough.
Transfer about 2 1/2 cups of the dough to the pan and press it evenly on the bottom.  Refrigerate the pan for about 40 minutes.

To prepare the topping:
Add the 1/4 cup of sugar to the remaining dough and, using your fingertips, work the sugar into the dough until it is crumbly and sandy.  Cover and set aside.

To prepare the filling:
In a large saucepan, combine the chunks of berries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch and wine.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid turns into a thick syrup (about 8 – 10 minutes).  Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.  (Note: it will continue to thicken as it cools.)  I allowed about 40 minutes for this.

To make the bars:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the pan from the refrigerator and prick the crust several times with a fork.  (Note: Chilling and pricking the dough will keep it from puffing up too much in the oven.)
Bake the crust for about 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and set aside.  Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Spread the berry mixture over the partially-baked crust.  Sprinkle the remaining dough mixture over the berries and pat into place.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crumb topping is light golden.  Cool for at least 3 hours before removing from pan.


Kitchen Riffs said...

What a bummer not to be able to enjoy fresh strawberries! But at least you can enjoy them in other forms. Terrific looking Streusel Bars - loads of flavor in these beauties. I'm glad you can eat these!

Jemi Fraser said...

I think I'm drooling... :0

Definitely going to try these ones! Strawberries are one of my favourite treats too!

Julie said...

These look beautiful. I can only imagine how good they taste!! I am loving all things brown butter these days.

Becki's Whole Life said...

That is too bad about strawberries for you. I have developed the same thing eating bananas. Can eat them cooked but not raw. I am so sad I didn't see this recipe about four hours ago - I would have made it. I was looking for a summery dessert and made lemon crumb bars. They were good, but I kinda wanted a strawberry dessert. Will bookmark this and make it later. They sound and look wonderful!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Oh, boy, do these look scrumptious! I'm a sucker for fruit bars...especially when streusel is involved :)

Kathy said...

Wow! These look amazing…anything with strawberries are ok with me! Have a great week, Beth!

Anonymous said...

These strawberry bars look delicious!

Gloria Baker said...

I love strawberries and these bars look amazing Beth!

Angie's Recipes said...

mmm...streusel...I just can't get enough of it. These are scrumptious, Beth.

Monet said...

Smile. Ryan and I have talked about how we'll know it's Lucy's birthtime when strawberries are in season. We are loving seeing them in the market...and we can't wait till she's here and old enough to enjoy them with us. These bars look amazing, Beth. And thank you for sharing the poetry too.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, these beautiful brown butter strawberry bars look like summer on a plate, just delicious - I rarely bake with strawberries but I know that whenever I do, I am always amazed at how delicous things turned out - I am sure these taste amazing1
Have a great Monday!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So sorry you're intolerant to strawberries. They grow here and we go picking them in June. This year we'll be out of town. But thanks for the great recipes to try.

Belinda said...

How strange to develop that - but in a few years, it might go away. Doesn't your body shift every 7 years or something? This is a wonderful solution!

Martina Boone said...

Oh, my gosh. Those sound decadent and delicious! And I love, love, love that poem from Pablo Neruda. He's my absolute favorite poet.

Vi said...

Mm brown butter and strawberries! And I like that sweet poem. Happy summer!

shaz said...

Hello Beth,

How are you? It's been a while since I last popped by..

These bars sound absolutely perfect. Fresh strawberries cost a fortune here (sigh), so I've yet to bake with them, but this might just be the first recipe I try :)

Unknown said...

I saw these bars when they were originally posted and wanted to make them. Now I want to make them even more - so yummy!

Anonymous said...

It's great that you can still enjoy strawberries if they're not fresh. These bars sound like a great way to kick off strawberry season!

Soni said...

I love your bars!!They have such a lovely color and are perfect for this strawberry season!

grace said...

i have a recipe similar to this, but it makes use of raspberry preserves. i would GREATLY prefer your filling--glorious work!

Valerie Gamine said...

Beth, your bars turned out beautifully!! I'm so happy you were able to enjoy them - I didn't know you had a strawberry intolerance. :( (I have an intolerance to Brussels sprouts, also self-inflicted.) ;)

Barbara said...

Nice you can eat them cooked, Beth. Sorry about your allergy to fresh! The bars look delicious; always my favorite thing about summer...all the fresh fruit and the recipes that result. I remember picking wild blueberries in Canada when I was a child; my mother made the most delicious pies with them.

Joanne said...

I've been pretty much INHALING strawberries lately so if I can spare a few from eating plain, I will definitely make them into these bars! So much YUM in these!

Juliana said...

Oh Beth, this look great...just recently I started to bake/cook with brown butter, so I can only imagine how delicious this bars interesting that you developed intolerance for strawberries.
Thanks for the recipe...hope you are having an enjoyable week :)

Katerina said...

I am sure the brown sugar gave these bars a very crunchy texture and a unique taste!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I am sure glad you didn't need to give up strawberries entirely. This looks like a beautiful seasonal dessert. Hoping for a good strawberry crop this year!

Julia said...

Strawberries bars - yes, I've been making lots of these too! Yours look so delicious, I love how you prepared the strawberry filling.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I also grew up in Southern Ontario. Heading to the strawberry fields in Spring were a right of passage.

Paula Montenegro said...

I can even use my fall strawberries for these bars! Such a great recipe Beth, brown butter really makes everything better. Could it be that your body doesn´t like the modern strawberries with pesticides and such, because of the very organic ones you ate as a kid? cooking and freezing them probably kills some unwanted intruder

Cindy said...

These look amazing. I want one right now. Just a big splash of summer!

Patty Price said...

These strawberry bar cookies are on my 'to make' list -great to see them here ;-)

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