Sweet and Tart
I think it would be criminal to pass up something so inviting.
As I was selecting my packages of strawberries, turning them over and around to pick the very best ones, my eyes canvassed the produce department, searching for the perfect accompaniment to the berries.
I did not have to go further than the bright yellow lemons to know what combination was going to work. I like to pick a lemon that ‘gives,’ as I roll it in my hand. The very firm ones are just not ready to release the juices I want.
I faced the dilemma of what to do with these two fruits. I love lemon bars, my favorite part of them being the delicious shortbread crust. I did not want to duplicate lemon bars, but rather to take my inspiration from them.
I added lemon to the crust, tweaking it a couple of times to get the tartness I was seeking. Then came the question of how to handle the strawberries. One of my favorite pies is Mom’s Strawberry Pie. In it, some of the strawberries are cooked on the stove, while others are sliced and placed in the pie.
I opted to cook the strawberries on the stove, mashing them first, in order to get a preserve consistency. I know that I could have very easily opened up a jar of strawberry preserves for this recipe, but we all know that is not as fresh an option as cooking the strawberries at home.
The end result is a delicious Lemon Strawberry Bar that incorporates the strawberries and lemon to produce a dessert that is both sweet and tart at the same time. Not enough tartness to force you to pucker up, but certainly enough sweetness for you to open wide and say “Ahhhh” after each and every bite.
|Lemon Strawberry Bars
- 8 ounces strawberries
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 4½ tablespoons sugar
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- For the filling:
- Wash, hull and dry the strawberries and place in a medium saucepan. Mash the berries in the saucepan with your hand or a masher. Add sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium low heat until the mixture is thick and translucent, stirring constantly. Cool completely.
- For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 325°. Butter an 8” x 8” baking pan and set aside.
- Place the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Beat for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down as needed. Add lemon zest and juice. Lastly, blend in flour.
- Place ⅔ of the dough into the prepared pan and use the palm of your hand to evenly distribute the dough. Bake bottom crust at 325° for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with cooled filling.
- Top the filling with the remaining dough in one of the following two ways. The first option is to take small pieces of the remaining dough and place them over the filling, in which case some of the filling will show through. The second option is to take pieces of the remaining dough, press them between your hands and lay the flattened pieces over the filling. The filling will be covered.
- Once the filling is topped, bake at 325° for an additional 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cool, dust with confectioners sugar and cut the bars.
- Betsy's tidbit:
- Either method of topping the filling will work. Decide whether or not you want to see some of the filling and go from there.