Crumbly shortbread, juicy strawberries and sweet streusel – these squares have it all! Pretty, portable and oh so tasty, they’re a great dessert for summer.
Strawberries have always been one of my favourite foods. I spent a whole week blogging about them last summer – my very first theme week! So I’m super excited to be a part of a Strawberry Celebration with Canadian Food Creatives. We are a group of Canadian food bloggers who get together to share recipes on a common theme. Thanks to Amanda at The Cinnamon Scrolls for hosting this month’s party! Follow the links below or check out #CDNFoodCreatives on social media to see all of the strawberry awesomeness!
Strawberry Rolls with Basil Cream from Amanda at The Cinnamon Scrolls
Strawberry Shortcake with Lavender Lemon Cream from Samantha at My Kitchen Love
Roasted Beet & Strawberry Salad from Jo-Anna at A Pretty Life
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries from Fareen at Food Mamma
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes from Jessica at She Bakes Here
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Toasted Almonds from Cassie at Crumb Kitchen
Strawberry-Rhubarb Streusel Buns from Isabelle at Crumb: A Food Blog
Chocolate Cupcakes with chocolate covered strawberries from Diana at 365 Days of Easy Recipes
Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles from Gloria at Homemade & Yummy
Strawberry Ice Cream with Drunken Rhubarb from Nicoletta at Sugarlovespices
Strawberry Vanilla Cream Tart from Vicky at Tiny Sweet Tooth
Simple Macerated Strawberries from Maria at She Loves Biscotti
Rituals + Strawberry, Rhubarb, Ginger Shrub by Tiffany at Eating Niagara
Yogurt Cake with Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb by Making Healthy Choices
Now for the my contribution: Strawberry Streusel Shortbread Squares (yes, I like alliteration!)
Many streusel or crumble squares use the same mixture for the bottom crust and the topping. I use that technique for my healthy strawberry rhubarb squares (another great strawberry treat!) It works great with a jam or cooked fruit filling, and is quick and simple. When I make squares with fresh fruit, I like something a little sturdier on the bottom layer. A shortbread cookie base helps the squares stay together and rounds out the flavours nicely. Yes, it’s another dough to mix up and another bowl to wash, but believe me, it’s worth it! This is a springtime twist on my Apple Streusel Squares, a recipe that’s a family favourite.
We’re going to start with a simple shortbread crust. I love shortbread cookies, and they actually form one of my most special food-related memories. That recipe is definitely going to make it onto the blog this Christmas! Shortbread forms a nice sturdy base for the squares.
You’ll need melted butter or margarine, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour. Butter will give you the best flavour, but dairy-free margarine works just fine – that’s what I used in the batch you see here.
Get your pan and oven ready to start – line an 8 x 8 square pan with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 300°.
Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the flour and mix until combined. You’ll have a thick, soft dough.
Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan. It’ll be a fairly thin layer, but try to get it as even as you can. Use a spatula, the bottom of a glass or a measuring cup to flatten and smooth the dough.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes. It should be set and very slightly browned, but will still look a bit underdone. Set the pan on a rack to cool slightly until you’re ready for the rest of the layers.
While the crust is baking, we can get started on the rest of this deliciousness!
On to the filling.
You’ll need strawberries, sugar and cornstarch. The lemon juice and zest are optional. They add a slight tang that’s a great contrast to the sweet berries and streusel. I really liked that version (and I actually don’t love lemon) but feel free to cut back or leave it out entirely. You may also need some flour but it didn’t show up in time for the photo J
Chop up the berries and mix in the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice/zest (if using.) If your berries are fresh and super juicy, you’ll definitely need the flour and you can go ahead and add it now. If your berries aren’t quite as ripe, you can let the filling sit while you prepare the topping and then assess the juiciness. If the berries let off a lot of liquid and seem soupy, toss in a tablespoon or two of flour. My berries were juicier than they looked so I ended up adding 2 tablespoons of flour.
The crumble topping is super simple: oats, brown sugar, flour and butter/margarine. You’ll want large flake (also known as old-fashioned) oats, not quick cooking. Make sure your butter is cold. I find dairy-free margarine doesn’t get quite as hard as butter, even when cold, so you may want to toss in in the freezer for a bit first.
Whisk the oats, sugar and flour together.
Cut the butter into small cubes and cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. No pastry blender? Use two knives, or just your fingers.
Time to put it all together!
Turn the oven up to 350° and lightly mist the sides of the pan with cooking spray.
Pour the strawberry filling evenly over the crust (remember to check the juiciness and add flour if necessary.)
Crumble the streusel evenly over the top.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the streusel is browned.
The one downside to these squares – you really can’t cut them while they’re warm without making a giant mess. Cool to room temperature on a rack, then refrigerate for two hours or until they’re totally cold.
Then you can cut and serve!
The squares are best the day they’re made, but will keep for 2 days in a sealed container in the fridge.
The perfect dessert for a summer gathering! I can’t wait to make a batch with local strawberries.
They’d be great for a shower or tea party too.
Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the strawberry goodness! Click on the links above or find #CDNFoodCreatives on social media.
If you haven’t had enough strawberry love, check out these recipes from my archives:
Strawberry Streusel Shortbread Squares
For the Crust:
- ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
- 2 cups diced strawberries
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- 1 – 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (if needed)
For the Streusel Topping:
- ½ cup old-fashioned/large flake oats
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup butter or margarine, cold and cubed
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 300°. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
Combine the melted butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix until combined. Press the dough firmly into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until very lightly browned.
For the Filling:
Combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice and zest (if using) in a medium bowl. Set aside while you prepare the streusel topping. If the filling has let off a lot of juice and seems soupy, add the flour to thicken it slightly. Juicy berries will require more flour; drier ones may not require any.
For the Streusel Topping:
Whisk the oats, sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender, two knives or your hands to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
To assemble the squares:
Turn the oven up to 350°. Lightly mist the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Pour the strawberry filling over the crust. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the streusel is browned. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 2 hours until thoroughly chilled. Slice into bars or squares.
Squares will keep in a sealed, refrigerated container for up to 2 days.