These perfect Strawberry and Cream cheese Bars are what you need for any occasion or just because. Layers of different textures and flavors. The best balance of sweet and tart, creamy and crumbly, all in one bite. Easy to make and so delicious! Make yourself a cuppa something and enjoy a slice or two.
With the strawberry season being right around the corner or with the frozen strawberries from your fridge you can easily make these bars. They are perfectly sweet but with the right amount of tartness. The base has the right texture, not soggy or dense, it’s crumbly but with a shape.
I used fresh strawberries for this recipe, as always I try to use fresh seasonal ingredients. But since I am making a jam-like consistency you can also use frozen if you don’t have fresh on hand.
Why cooking/roasting strawberries is better when baked?
When baking or cooking the strawberries on the stove it removes the extra moister and concentrates the flavor. So when you add the strawberries to the dough or batter, it will not make it soggy and ruin the texture. You can use fresh strawberries if you add them at the end as a topping or on desserts that don’t require baking.
Tips for making the best Strawberry and Cream Cheese Bars!
The base – When making the base make sure you use cold butter. Also before adding the next layer, you MUST put the base in the freezer to firm up or it will be difficult to spread the cream cheese on top.
Cream cheese – I use it as it is. You could add sweetener to it, but I think the flavor compliments the rest very well.
Strawberry layer – I prefer to cook the berries on the stove with sugar and lemon juice. It creates more of a jam-y consistency.
- After you bake it, make sure to let it cool completely before slicing. I know, I know… This is the hardest part, especially with the delicious aroma unfolding throughout baking. BUT, this is an important step. If you cut it while still warm, it may fall apart and you won’t have nicely shaped bars. (If you bake it in the evening, you can just leave it to cool overnight covered with a kitchen towel. Cut in the morning. And enjoy with your cuppa tea or coffee)!
How to make Strawberry and Cream Cheese Bars?
- First off, you can start by lining a baking tray with parchment paper. I use a 10″x6″(25.5x15cm)size baking pan, you can also use an 8″x 8″(20x20cm). If it’s bigger or smaller the ratio for each layer will be off.
- Then I prepare the strawberries by cutting them into quarters. Add them to a preheated pan with the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Cook on medium to low for about 20min. Stir frequently.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour, and combine it with salt, sugar, baking powder, and cold butter. I use my hands to work the butter into the flour mix. Another option is to add everything to a food processor and blend a few times till it resembles a coarse sand-like texture. I like doing it by hand because it creates a more uneven rustic texture, plus fewer things to wash at the end ;).
- The last step is to add the egg into the mixture, this will bring everything together. Take about a cup from the mixture and save it in the fridge (not the freezer), to sprinkle on the top before baking. Transfer the dough to the baking tray and press with your hands till you have an even base. Transfer to the freezer for about 15-20min.
- Once the base had harden spread the cream cheese on top and then the cooked strawberries. Sprinkle with the saved base mixture.
- Bake at 350F (180C) for about 40-50min.(depending on your oven), or till the top starts to turn golden and bubbly.
- Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely before slicing. If you don’t care for a perfect slice and you just can’t wait to try it, go for it! Won’t judge!
How to store the bars?
You can keep them at room temperature for the first couple of days. But after that, you can freeze them in an air-tight container for up to two months. They actually taste really nice cold. The cream cheese resembles an almost ice-cream-like texture, so it’s great for a warmer day. You can also heat them up in the oven for a few minutes if you like them warm. And why not top them off with a scoop of strawberry ice cream, yum!
If you store them in the fridge, they will become a little bit wet on top. You can do that, and then just throw them in the oven for a few minutes to warm them up.
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PERFECT STRAWBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE BARS RECIPE
- Baking Dish
- 400 g Fresh or Frozen Strawberries 14oz or 2.5 cups
- 50 g Raw Cane Sugar 1/4 cup
- 1 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 260 g AP Flour, or Pastry Flour 2 cups
- 1/4 t Salt
- 100 g Brown Sugar(Muscovado), or Raw Cane Sugar 1/2 cup
- 1 t Baking Powder
- 100 g Cold Butter 7 tbsp
- 1 Egg
- 300 g Cream Cheese
- Line a 10"x6" or 8"x8" baking dish with parchment paper.
- Chop the strawberries into quoters. Place them into a frying pan with the 50g sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Cook on med to low heat, for about 20min. Stir frequently.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt, brown sugar, baking powder. Mix. Chop the butter into small cubes as it will be easier to work it into the flour. Add the butter into the flour mix and with your hands start mixing it in till it resembles coarse sand. Add the egg and mix it in. Take 1 cup out of the mixture and keep it in the fridge to use on top at the end.Note: You can also use a food processor and mix everything in it, just make sure not to make the texture too fine.Using your hands press the remaining dough into the baking dish. Transfer to the freezer for about 20min.
- Preheat the oven to 350F(180C)
- After the dough has harden spread the cream cheese on top. Then add the cooked strawberries and sprinkle on top the remaining 1 cup flour mixture.
- Bake for about 40-50min (depending on your oven), or till the top is golden and bubbly.
- Take out of the oven and let it cool completely before slicing.
- Keep at room temperature for up to two days or freeze for up to two months.