Rich, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, heaped up with juicy, new season B.C. strawberries, and topped with buttery, pecan-laden goodness. Summer satisfaction, unbridled.
"Hi dee ho, I have arrived! Yippee!! My name is Strawberry Shortbread. Ha! I know right, what a cool name. I just love it. Jude lovingly named me. Hey Jude, thanks!"
"First things first, I am here, front and centre, because we're kicking off, the always deliciously anticipated, strawberry season in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Oh yeahhh, baby, let the beguiling berries have their way with you, every chance you get!"
"Secondly I am here, with determined conviction, to give the grand queen of all strawberry desserts, Strawberry Shortcake, a run for her money. With a respectfully brazen blush I am challenging Strawberry Shortcake to scooch over, just a bit."
I know, I know, Strawberry Shortcake is everyone's favorite, of quite mythic proportions."
"But, but, but........seriously, think about it. It's fairly unanimous that one of all of our fave things about the Christmas season is buttery, rich, scrumptious shortbread, just like Gramma used to make. Right? Well guess what? I have that nailed! My bottom (yeah, ha, ha, very funny....my bottom!) is none other than scrumptious, sultry shortbread."
"But it doesn't stop there, it just keeps on getting better! My middle is a luscious, ruby red, big ol' muddle of fresh strawberries, heaped up, then heaped up a little bit more, creating a bodacious layer of friendship, just for my shortbread bottom. Whooeeee, baby!"
"And if that isn't enough of a magical merger for you, last but not least, my topping, my top hat, as I always say, makes me totally snazzy. Totally! I had a flipping cool, light bulb moment to save a bit of my shortbread bottom, to crumble and mingle with happily crunchy pecan bits. And you guys, when I scattered my top hat goodness over the fresh strawberries they very, very, quietly moaned, with unexpected pleasure. How cool is that?"
"Which brings me here today, to boldly, but ever-so- kindly ask Strawberry Shortcake to scooch over, just a bit. I have arrived!"
"And now I just can't stop singing, Don't Fence Me In!" (Thank-you, thank-you, very much!)
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE BARS ~ Makes one 8x8-inch pan.
FOR THE CRUST and TOPPING:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
FOR THE STRAWBERRY FILLING:
2 hefty pints (4 generous cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
Icing sugar, for topping
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two edges of the pan about two inches. This will make the pie bars easier to remove after it's baked. Lightly spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
For the crust, place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and mix on low speed until just combined.
Scatter two-thirds of the dough into clumps in the prepared pan, flour your fingers and press the dough, evenly, across the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1/2-inch. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and set aside to cool while you prepare the topping and filling.
In a small bowl combine the remaining crust and pecans. Mix with your hands, until the pecans are evenly distributed, set aside.
In a medium bowl toss together the sliced strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and spices. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes until some juices develop in the bottom of the bowl. Toss in the melted butter and the instant tapioca. Stir, stir, to combine. Spread the strawberries evenly over the crust.
Pinch medium pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and scatter them evenly over the top of the strawberry mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is brown and the strawberry mixture is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Chill in the refrigerator to easily remove the bars from the pan.
Once cooled, remove from the pan and dust with powdered sugar just before serving, and slice away. Yummy with a dollop of whipped cream.
Store in refrigerator, for up to 3 days.