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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Strawberry-Custard Shortbread Bars

You may remember one of my first posts last year, when I mentioned that Gus was sprayed by a skunk.

After 20+ years as a dog owner, my skunk-free streak of luck had run out.

We dodged a bullet last night.  Take a look:

All of a sudden, Gus was acting insane.  He was so insistent that he be let outside.  He could hardly contain his excitement.  Then I smelled the skunky smell.

Something tells me it is only a matter of time until he gets sprayed again.

Trying to get a head start on my baking for the Super Bowl.  Go Pats!!

Today's Playlist

"Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"........Jet
"Lump"........The Presidents Of The United States Of America
"Sins Of My Youth".......Neon Trees
"Sick Of You"...........Cake
"How Far We've Come".........Matchbox Twenty
"No One Knows".........Queens Of The Stone Age
"All My Lovin'".......Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
"Seven Nation Army"......The White Stripes
"Dirty Little Secret"........All-American Rejects
"Lonely Boy".........The Black Keys

Strawberry-Custard Shortbread Bars
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 2 cups strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • sanding sugar or powdered sugar for dusting the top

Gather your ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  Make sure the foil hangs over the 9-inch ends so that you can use it to lift the bars out of the pan after baking.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed until it's softened.

Add the brown sugar........

........and salt.  Mix on low speed for about a minute, just to blend it in.

Add the two cups of flour.  Make sure the mixer is turned off when you do this, or else it will go poof! all over you.  Oh, I've done that, so please learn from my mistake.

Turn your mixer on the lowest speed, and mix on low until the flour is just incorporated.  It's not quite mixed yet, but it's not powdery anymore.  

Then turn the speed up and mix until the dough is thoroughly mixed.

Put the dough into your foil-lined pan.

Spread it evenly.  First I tried pressing it with the back of a spoon, then I tried using my fingers, and finally I found that the heel of my palm worked best to press it evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes in your preheated 350-degree oven.  You will know that it's done when the dough has evened out (no more marks from the spoon/fingers/palm that you used to press it) and is slightly puffed and risen.

While you're waiting for the dough to bake, roughly chop your strawberries.  

 I bought too many strawberries the last time they were on sale and ending up coring and freezing them.  They sort of "melt" when they are defrosted......that's why the strawberries in this picture look so slimy.

You can use fresh strawberries or frozen......just make sure that you don't use frozen strawberries in syrup or with extra sugar.

Zest your lemon.  Then, juice one half of the lemon and this will give you the two tablespoons of juice that you will need.

Place the cream cheese into the bowl of your mixer.

Beat it for about 30 seconds, just to soften it.

Add the sugar......

.......and flour.  Mix just until blended.

With your mixer running, add the egg, egg yolk,

......lemon zest, lemon juice........

........and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.

By now your shortbread should be done.  Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.

While you're waiting for it to cool, prepare your jam.

When you open your jam, it's all jelled, like this.

Use a spoon to mix it up in the jar.

Now is also the time to brush the foil in your pan with butter, so that the filling doesn't stick.  You could melt a little bit of butter and use a pastry brush to brush it on, or you could do what I do: just take a small chunk of butter (about a tablespoon) and rub it on the sides.  It melts quickly because the pan is still slightly warm.

Pour about 3/4 cup of the jam onto the crust.

Use a spoon to spread it evenly.

There you go.

Sprinkle the strawberries evenly on top.

Pour the custard batter evenly over the berries.

Pick up the pan and rock it back and forth to distribute the custard evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the custard just starts to set.

Cool completely (about an hour).  After it has cooled, refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I refrigerated it overnight).

Use the long edges of the foil to lift the bars from the pan.  

I sprinkled some sanding sugar on the bars at this point.  You could use powdered sugar if you prefer, or you could skip the sugar altogether.

Carefully peel the foil off the bottom of the bars.

Transfer the bars onto a cutting board.

Use a large, sharp knife to cut the bars.  Cut into six or seven rows along the longest side........

.........then four rows along the shorter side.

Transfer to a serving plate.


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