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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Triple Berry Lattice & Crumble bars

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I made these bars after making preserves, since I figured it would showcase the berries perfectly…..let’s begin.

You start with your crust recipe and double it, as you would when making a double crust pie. I use a William’s Sonoma one that has both butter and shortening. I know there is a debate on which one makes a better crust over the other, so I figure both make a phenomenal crust then :). Use whatever recipe you commonly use, I have no rules!

Once your crust has rested in the fridge for an hour or so, it’s time to get you to work. I used a lasagna pan because I was making squares. I sprayed the pan with PAM (with flour), then placed two “lifters” made of foil. This makes removing your masterpiece easier when it has cooled in the fridge. I then spray a little more PAM and add a layer of parchment, cut and shaped like the pan. In case you are wondering, I do make sure the parchment sticks up a little on the sides, because I want nothing sticking or oozing where it shouldn’t. The PAM helps keep things in place while you assemble and also serves for the purpose of helping things release when needed. It’s my little insurance for my projects. After I complete my craft project above, I roll out the pie dough that will serve as the bottom of my squares. I then make the cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
Plus, 1 tablespoon of All-Purpose Flour (to be added before filling)

Before adding the Cream Cheese filling, take a tablespoon of flour and just sprinkle it on the pie dough.

To make the Cream Cheese Filling, you just combine ingredients until they are smooth and then spread evenly, as this is the first layer. After comes the fruit!

Triple Berry Fruit Filling:
1/4 cup of Blackberry Preserves
1/4 cup of Strawberry Preserves
1/4 cup of Blueberry Preserves

I wanted each bite to have all three berries, so I plopped spoonfuls of each in segments. It was my way to not lose track and to make sure I spread everything evenly without disturbing the cream cheese bottom. I then lightly smoothed out the filling with a spoon.

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Before Baking (all assembled)

As you see the picture shows a crumble and lattice top, I figure like the pie dough debate, I nip this one by making both. I added my lattice top and this I just used a dough cutter to make strips. As you can see, it is not perfect but has that “made at home” appeal. After I did the lattice top, then comes the crumb topping.

Crumble Topping:
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
2/3 cup of All-Purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of Sugar

I whisk the flour and sugar until incorporated and then used a fork to add the butter. I literally just start pushing down on the butter until everything mixes and sometimes I even use my hands when the butter starts giving me an attitude! You want about pea-sized crumbles, since you add them to the “open squares” in your lattice top. If a crumble rebels and gets on the lattice, no worries as you will be fine.

I then place the pan in the oven, at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. If your top starts browning too quickly, just cover lightly with foil.  From my experience, I only covered for the last 15 minutes in case I got distracted.

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Right out of the oven (after baking)

Once done, I then left the pan out for about 2 hours and then placed it in the fridge for about 2 more hours, while I fixed dinner. Once cooled nicely, I use the foil lifters to lift the entire thing out and begin to cut into squares. You may sprinkle with powder sugar if you desire and these go great with ice cream! Enjoy!

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