Sunday, May 31, 2020

Small-Batch Brown Butter Strawberry Cardamom Crumb Bars with Orange Icing

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry RecipesOne of many things I've missed these last few months is doing my own grocery shopping (with two little boys, I've only been able to occasionally go alone on weekends, or more often just use the grocery pickup option during the week, while we all wait in the car).  I really don't like having other people choose my groceries, especially produce, since I like to look it over carefully and pick the best fruit and vegetables.

My boys don't care about the shopping part, but they miss riding in the car cart and getting a free cookie to eat while I shop. And my oldest son really seems to miss being around other people and wants so badly to make friends - he kept trying to say hi to some workers who were replacing our neighbor's roof, and when we happened to be outside when our trash was picked up, he called out to them, "hey guys, you want a popsicle?"

Besides choosing my own produce, another advantage to shopping in the store is getting to see all the seasonal fruit that's available, especially now that we're heading into stone fruit season.  I buy blueberries and strawberries all year 'round, but there's no denying that they're best this time of year.  And while it's still strawberry season, I had to make another new recipe to celebrate this beautiful fruit.

These bars have such a lovely marriage of flavors going on.  There's browned butter, strawberries, cardamom, crushed vanilla bean, and orange icing, and they were simply perfect - and better than any strawberry pie I've ever tasted.  Seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten.




Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes




These bars begin with browned butter, which is combined with a simple mixture of flour and brown sugar, a pinch of cardamom, and of course, salt.  The browned butter crumble is pressed into the pan for the bottom crust, and also sprinkled over the top for the most rich and buttery tasting crumb topping with just the right amount of salt to enhance all the flavors.

For the filling, I simmered fresh strawberries with lemon juice and some strawberry jam, until thick and syrupy.  A little crushed vanilla bean complemented the intense tartness of the filling, and the sweet, sticky scent of strawberries filled the house.

After the bars had baked and cooled, I finished them with a drizzle of icing.  Since the bars themselves don't have a lot of sugar in them, I really felt like they could use the added sweetness of the icing.  A simple powdered sugar glaze made from fresh orange zest, orange juice, powdered sugar and a pinch of crushed vanilla bean was so pretty drizzled over the bars.

Fruit filled bars can sometimes turn soggy after a day or so, and the icing will turn sticky and weepy, but not these.  In fact, two days later, I thought they were even better than they were just hours after the oven - the crumble was still buttery and crisp, and the icing still set.  When my husband came home from work the day I made these, he tasted one and promptly asked if I could make them every weekend for the rest of the summer.




Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry Recipes






Brown Butter Strawberry Cardamom Crumb Bars with Orange Icing
printable


Filling.
  • 1/2 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup good-quality strawberry jam
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla bean (see note)
  • 2 extra strawberries, to place on top of the crumble
Crust and Topping.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Icing.
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Cara Cara orange, zested and juiced
  • pinch of ground vanilla bean (see note)

Notes:
Since real vanilla and vanilla beans are so precious these days, I don't waste any part of the vanilla bean, using both the seeds and the bean pod.  After scraping the seeds from the bean, I save the beans, let them dry a little, and then grind them up in a spice grinder. I keep them in a little glass jar and add those ground bits directly to cakes, cookies, etc.  It adds wonderful vanilla flavor.

Don't skip the icing on these.  There's very little sugar in the actual bars, and without the icing, they are more tart than sweet, so the icing adds the perfect sweet finish and flavor.

If you don't like cardamom, you can substitute your favorite spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or allspice, to name a few that would complement these bars.


Getting Ready.
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a 6-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with non-stick spray.


Filling.
In a saucepan, combine the 1/2 pound strawberries, jam, lemon juice, vanilla and vanilla bean.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick, syrupy, and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.

Set the filling aside to cool while you make the crust.  The filling can also be made a day or two in advance, and refrigerated.


Crust and Topping.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally until fragrant, and nutty brown solids form at the bottom of the pan.

While the butter is cooking, combine the 1 1/2 cups flour with the brown sugar, salt, baking powder and cardamom in a bowl.  Pour the browned butter over the flour mixture, scraping up all the brown solids from the pan, too.  Use a spoon to stir it together into a soft dough.

Press 2/3 of the dough evenly in the bottom of the baking pan.  Bake on the center oven rack for 20 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to the remaining 1/3 of the dough, and stir together until crumbly - this will be the topping.  Set aside.

After baking the crust for 20 minutes, remove from the oven.  Spread the strawberry filling over the hot crust, then sprinkle with the topping.  Chop the remaining 2 strawberries, and nestle them on top of the crumble topping.

Bake the bars for about 35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Set aside to cool completely, at least 4-6 hours.


Icing.
Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the paper up and out of the pan.  Set on a cutting board, cut into 6-8 rectangular bars, and arrange on a plate.

To make the icing, add the orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, to the powdered sugar, stirring until the icing is a thick, drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over the bars.  Immediately sprinkle with a little orange zest and crushed vanilla bean.  The icing will set quickly, in about 10 minutes.


Yields 6-8 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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