RECIPE: Strawberry bars are sweet spring sensation

Fresh Strawberry Bars adapted from "Toaster Oven Takeover" by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore (Simon & Schuster, 2021). (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)
Fresh Strawberry Bars adapted from "Toaster Oven Takeover" by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore (Simon & Schuster, 2021). (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

The recent flush of flower blossoms and green leaves reminds me how much I appreciate the seasons as they unfold in the South, especially our early spring.

It still amazes me that I tasted the first of this year’s Florida strawberry crop in February. When I lived in the Midwest, we’d have to wait until May for regionally grown ones to arrive.

When it comes to enjoying these ruby red gems in their prime, I generally prefer that they come straight from the field to my mouth — no cooking or fussy preparation in-between. However, I make an exception with strawberry dessert bars — any berry bar, really — and preferably one that holds fresh fruit instead of a thick layer of preserves that break the sugar bank. Authors Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore offer a rendition using fresh strawberries in their recently published “Toaster Oven Takeover,” a cookbook that makes efficient use of this underrated kitchen appliance (and that I plan to consult again when summer arrives to avoid heating up the kitchen with my full-size oven).

Theirs is a simple, straightforward recipe that results in a very rich, buttery treat. In the quest for a slightly healthier bar, I experimented with the flour type, and the quantities of sugar and strawberries. Swapping half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat worked, although it does make for a slightly denser bar. I decreased the amount of sugar for the crumb crust and topping from 1 cup to 3/4 cup without tasting a discernible difference, especially because the ripe strawberries offered an abundance of natural sweetness. Since the filling seemed like it could handle even more strawberries, I added an additional cup without needing to adjust the quantity of lemon juice, cornstarch or sugar that the berries are tossed in.

Whether you stick with the original recipe by Wyss and Moore or tinker around like I did, the hardest part is waiting for the bubbly berries to cool before you dig into this celebratory springtime dessert.

Fresh Strawberry Bars
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Heat the toaster oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with nonstick aluminum foil.
  • Beat the butter, flour, salt, and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer at medium speed, until the mixture is combined and resembles crumbles. Place half of the mixture in the prepared pan. Press down evenly to form a crust.
  • Combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the strawberries, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Spread evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the strawberries. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until bubbly and light brown (if using the convection oven setting, bake for 45 to 50 minutes). Let cool completely on a wire rack. They are best served at room temperature. These can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw to room temperature before serving. Makes 16 bars.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per bar: 238 calories (percent of calories from fat, 43), 2 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 12 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 62 milligrams sodium.

From “Toaster Oven Takeover: Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make in Your Toaster Oven” by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. Copyright @ 2021 by Simon & Schuster Inc. Reprinted by permission of Tiller Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.

In Other News