Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

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Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

Being that Easter is approaching and we are embracing Spring, I wanted something light that would showcase the fruit.  I also wanted something that was quick because I again purchased strawberries and picked for the perfect case, to then just forget them in fridge for 3 days!

My crust is identical to the one I made for the Key Lemon bars and since it was a hit, not changing it!  It’s a shortbread crust and please view that recipe here https://samplesandfreebiesgallery.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/welcome-the-first-day-of-spring-with-key-lemon-cream-bars/ for details on preparation but I will note the ingredients needed.
Crust: 
1 stick of Salted Butter (softened)
1 stick of Unsalted Butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
3 drops of Almond Extract
300 grams of All-Purpose Flour
Vanilla Bean Cream Filling:
3 5/8 ounces of Mascarpone cheese (softened)
8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons of White Sugar
3/4 ounces of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 Vanilla Bean
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
You soften both cheeses by leaving out until soft or like me, I use the microwave in the defrost setting.
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With a mixer or by hand with a whisk, you blend until combined.  You add the white sugar and sweetened condensed milk and again whip, making sure you are mostly lump free.  Then you add both the vanilla extract, and 1/4 of the scrapings from a Vanilla Bean.
Again, whisk until combined.  Last comes the flour and I usually do one tablespoon at a time in order to keep everything nice and smooth.
Fruit Filling:
5 1/2 ounces of Strawberry preserves
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I made my own using the strawberries I purchased before they went bad.  I just cook them down on the stove with some water, a teaspoon of sugar (more or less depending how sweet the berries are), and a teaspoon of fruit pectin.  I add a used Vanilla Bean and cook about 15 minutes or when the product reached the thickness I desire.
Topping:
2/3 cup of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon of ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
A couple gratings of fresh Nutmeg
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of White Sugar
3 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
To make topping, you combine all the dry ingredients and when incorporated, you then start to add the cold butter until you get crumbles.  Very easy to do by hand or even with a fork….whatever works best for you.  You can also add less or more of the spices to fit your taste.
Once you have pre-baked the crust, you allow for it to cool down just a bit (10 minutes).
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You add the Vanilla Bean cream filling and just spread out evenly.
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I then add the Strawberry Filling and make swirls so everyone gets a good helping of fruit and cream filling, it also looks pretty.  Short on time….you can stop here and bake and still have a great final product!
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If you have a little time, you then make your topping and sprinkle over before baking.
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Once everything is assembled, you simply put it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Test for doneness by simply measuring the jiggle but keep in mind like brownies, you do not want to wait until firm.  This is sort of like a cheesecake and will continue to cook when you take it out.  I cooled it down 2 hours outside and 2 hours in the fridge.
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I then cut different sized squares because sometimes we want to eat more or less.
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You can serve as-is or with vanilla bean ice cream.  Enjoy!
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Welcome the First Day of Spring with Key Lemon Cream Bars

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With Spring right around the corner, I wanted something that would welcome the flavors. My creation, Key Lemon Cream Bars! You have a shortbread crust and a Key Lime, lemon, and cream cheese filling to wake up your taste buds! Very easy to make and I hope you enjoy them too.  These would also be great for St. Patrick’s day because they are quick to make.

Crust:
1 Salted stick of butter and 1 Unsalted stick of butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 drops of Almond extract
300 grams of all-purpose Flour

I used a mixer and blended the butters, powder sugar, and extracts until smooth and creamy. I then incorporate the flour until just blended. I used a lasagna dish, sprayed with cooking spray (I use Pam with flour) and pressed the shortbread to create a crust. I then used a fork to dock before baking at 350 degrees.

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I pre-baked the crust for 20 minutes and then took the crust out. With a spoon, I then pressed down on the crust so it could retain it’s shape and baked an additional 10 minutes.

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I took the crust out and just to make sure things stayed flat as much as I wanted, I again smashed softly with a spoon. Just in case the crust tries to misbehave! While my crust slightly cooled, I started with the filling.

Cream Filling:
One 8 ounce bar of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 ounce of Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice
1 ounce of Condensed Milk
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
5 teaspoons of Powdered Sugar
2 ounces of all-purpose Flour

Lemon Top: 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd

I softened the cream cheese in the microwave on the defrost setting because this girl is short on time. I then blend in the Key lime juice. If you don’t have key lime juice, a good substitute is lemon juice and you can try anything from lime to even juice from a fresh Key Lime. You can even add zest from a citrus fruit, so do what you want to make it your own.

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1 ounce of Condensed Milk.

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I then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

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5 teaspoons of powdered sugar and I moved up to a small whisk because I want to keep the batter smooth.  I blended a teaspoon at a time to make sure everything would incorporate easier.

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Next comes the 2 ounces of flour and I whisked until smooth.

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I put that aside and then in a small separate bowl, you add 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd.

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Assembly is a cinch!

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I spread out the cream filling first as evenly as time can allow.  I was getting close to dinner time and knew these needed to be done and cooled within a couple hours.

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Next the 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd and I tried to be cute and make swirls!

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I then just finish baking at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Mine were ready in 27 minutes and I did add foil on top for the last 10 minutes because I had to step outside and needed I prefer to be safe than sorry.

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I cooled for an hour outside the fridge and then for 45 minutes in the fridge.  I then set the pan outside for 10 minutes before cutting.  I did this because the butter in the shortbread is easier to cut when it comes down in temperature.  This avoids cracks and I can make nicer looking squares.

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The final product I dusted lightly with powdered sugar for presentation.  These taste great and what I like best, the Lemon and Key Lime is present but does not force you to engage your pucker power abilities.  I love lemon but my Hubby not as much so this satisfied both of us!

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