Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dessert Tonight: Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

While I'm generally a great big wimp when it comes to cooking without a recipe, I'm pretty good about substitutions. Many a baked good in my kitchen has included a tablespoon of mayonnaise instead of an egg, and I'm pretty good about concocting combinations of milk and yogurt to resemble various thicknesses of cream. I think it comes from the Mongolia years, when I really didn't have any choice but to substitute and when I ate pretty darn well despite the limited ingredients.

I picked up some rhubarb at the grocery store today, along with a whole bunch of strawberries. At the time I was thinking, naturally, of making a pie. However, as we have plans to picnic this evening, I thought perhaps it would be wise to make something more portable, so I started searching for a recipe for strawberry rhubarb bars. I loved this one that I found on the EatingWell website. The first ingredient on the list is 1 cup of chopped nuts or oats. I knew that I had just used up all of my oatmeal and nuts on the last batch of granola...but I thought perhaps I can use a cup of the granola instead. It proved an excellent substitution. Because the granola is sweetened (and includes sweetened coconut), I cut back on the sugar a bit. I also halved the recipe because, really, a 9 x 12 pan of sweets in the middle of the week is just not a good idea. If you want to make more, I'd recommend following the proportions in the original recipe as I was a bit footloose with my math in dividing the ingredients.


Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Adapted from Eating Well

Makes 9 bars


For the crust:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granola (preferably without dried fruit)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:
2 c. diced strawberries
1 c. diced rhubarb (from one large stalk)
2 Tbsp. orange juice
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. To prepare crust: Combine 1/2 cup granola, whole wheat flour, white flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until well incorporated. 
  2. Whisk egg, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl. With the motor running, add the mixture to the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds (it will look crumbly).  Measure out 1/4 cup of the mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of granola. Set aside for the topping.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously coat an 8x8 square baking pan with cooking spray.
  4. To prepare fruit filling: Combine 1 1/2 c. strawberries, 3/4 c. rhubarb, orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the remaining fruit and the vanilla. Set aside.
  5. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared baking pan. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread the fruit filling over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the crust and topping are light brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1 1/2 hours.

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