I first read about these crisp bars on Smitten Kitchen’s blog, where she describes them as ah-ma-zing. Then, my friend made them and said they were delicious. I remained unconvinced. But, I had all the ingredients, and was desperately needing to do something with all the rhubarb that my mom had given me from her garden. So I gave them a shot. Yum.
It’s a perfect combo of rhubarb and strawberries, with a nice bit of sweetness and crunch. Plus, they are made with oatmeal, so they’re practically healthy. Right? Of course, since we eat these for dessert, they pair well with some creamy vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.
So, full disclosure, neither the strawberries nor the rhubarb were, in this case, from my CSA box. I DID get some rhubarb from our CSA the following week, but the rhubarb I used here was from my mom’s garden. (Don’t tell the CSA people, but hers was actually better!) Also, the strawberry season here on the east coast has been dismal. This is epically disappointing for me, as I early anticipate strawberry season each year, as soon as the weather starts turning warm. Apparently it rained a lot right before harvesting, leading to soggy, rotten berries. So our berries have been primarily from the grocery store and California. Not so great for eating fresh, but good enough when baked or cooked into things.
Anyway. These strawberry rhubarb cookie bars. I made them twice. The first time, they turned out perfectly. Crisp and cookie-bar-like. The second time, not so much. They still tasted good, but they weren’t crunchy. I think the key is to bake them long enough (I ended up baking them MUCH longer than the recipe called for.) and adding enough flour (Again, the first time, I added more flour than the recipe called for.). You can make these bars in their actual baking pan, but this seemed like a hassle to me – and I have a dishwasher that washes those 2 bowls I used, so… . But, either way you choose to make them, these are easy to whip up. And even easier to eat.
(I neglected to take a photo of the cut bars. Probably I was distracted by eating them. Sorry about that. I’ll add one the next time I make them!)
I still have some rhubarb left – probably the last of the season. Big dilemma – do I make these again or try something new?
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars)
Makes 16 small bars (or less, if you cut them larger! I like to cut them small. And then have 2.)
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cups, plus up to 4 tablespoons, flour
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup small-diced rhubarb (I used about 3 stalks)
1 cup small-diced strawberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use parchment paper to line an 8×8 square baking pan. (Or, don’t. It’s not necessary, and you’ll still be able to remove them from the pan without trouble.)
Combine oats, 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well. Drizzle melted butter over the dry ingredients and mix until clumps form. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of flour, gradually, if the mixture seems wet. Add up to another 2 tablespoons of flour, until the mixture seems crumbly; it should still be slightly damp.
Mix strawberries, rhubarb, cornstarch, lemon juice, and white sugar in a small bowl.
Spread about 2/3 of the oat mixture over the bottom of the pan. Pour the fruit over this, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top of the fruit.
Bake the bars for 40-55 minutes. When they are done, the top will look browned and smell toasted. When I cooked it long enough, the fruit along the edges bubbled up and even burned a bit.
Cool the bars completely. I let them rest on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes, then finished cooling them in the refrigerator. (The less crispy bars I cooled entirely on the counter. Put them in the fridge!) These bars keep better when refrigerated. Eat when cooled.