Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars


 
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter
Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter

Are you sick of Rhubarb yet? I am not. I don’t think that I will ever be, in fact. So here we are again with another rhubarb recipe - this time for Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars. That sounds super fancy, but essentially I took my favourite shortbread recipe (which we used in these mini egg bars), jacked it up even more with some brown butter, then used it as both the base and the topping for these strawberry rhubarb bars. The use of the shortbread in both the base and topping gives a double dose of texture either side of the jammy fruit filling, without having to make two separate components.

The filling for these is super simple - strawberries, rhubarb, a little sugar, and some starch to help bind things. There’s no cooking things down into a jam, it’s just the standard equation for a fruit filling I usually stick by : fruit plus sweetener plus starch. I love how rhubarb cooks down but still holds its shape in these bars - which gives not only that tartness that rhubarb is amazing for, but a little more texture than if you were to cook the fruit down prior to adding to the bars. As long as your base is cooked nicely before adding the fruit, you’re all good to avoid any sogginess.

I kept the ratio of rhubarb to strawberry a bit higher on the rhubarb side, as I wanted the flavour to really come through. You could absolutely switch it up, but be aware that strawberries are a lot more watery than rhubarb, so you may have to tweak the quantity of starch a bit to account for that.

I browned the butter in the shortbread, which is slightly more labour intensive than just using regular butter, but in my opinion is so, so worth it - the toasty brown butter plays off the hazelnuts and brown sugar in the shortbread base, which elevates the whole thing in the most amazing way.

I’ve included directions on how to just use regular butter if you are a little short on time and don’t have time for the butter to cool, or would like to skip that step. These would be perfect for taking to a picnic, or as a simple dessert for a summer dinner - they are so, so good with a scoop of ice cream!

A few wee tips:

  • This is important - each batch of brown butter will yield a slightly different amount of liquid. I have added milk into the recipe to account for the moisture loss - my brown butter came out at 180g, so I added 45g milk (to make it back up to 225g). You will need to weigh your brown butter and work out how much milk needs to be added (it’s probably around 45g) - to work this out, weigh your brown butter, then subtract the weight from 225 - that is your milk amount! Or if that’s too tricky, 45g milk will work just great too.

  • The brown butter needs a little bit of time (about 45 min) in the fridge to come back to a soft butter consistency so that you can cream it with the sugar

  • If you don’t want to brown the butter, you don’t have to, although I think it is a delicious step! If you don’t want to, you can just use 225g of unsalted butter, at room temperature, and you can leave out the milk (which accounts for the moisture loss while browning the butter)

  • I used pre-chopped hazelnuts, but if you can’t find those, finely chop some toasted hazelnuts. To toast them, place them on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 mins in the oven at 350°f / 180°c.

  • These definitely are easiest to cut once they are properly cool and have time to set - pop them in the fridge to speed this up if you need!

  • I actually shot the first test of these, before I tweaked the base a little - so it looks a little on the uncooked side. The final recipe has you cook it a little more!

  • The measurements for the fruit are taken after they were trimmed - so the ends chopped off the rhubarb, and the tops taken from the strawberries.

 

 

Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars

- Makes 12 bars -

Brown Butter Hazelnut Shortbread
225g unsalted butter, diced
120g brown sugar
45g milk (see notes)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp salt
340g all-purpose flour
60g toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Filling
500g trimmed rhubarb, diced
300g trimmed strawberries, diced
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g white sugar
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/4 tsp salt

 

- PROCESS -

SHORTBREAD

Place the butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until melted, then continue to cook, stirring often, until it begins to brown and smell nutty. Watch it carefully, as it can easily be over done. It will go foamy, and then be done soon after. Transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking process. Place in the fridge, stirring occasionally, until it is a soft butter consistency (I like to pour it straight into my mixer bowl to save dishes).

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease a 9” (23cm) baking tin, and line with two pieces of parchment paper, with the ends extending over the edges of the pan to form a ‘sling’ to help you remove the bars after baking.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cooled brown butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla bean paste and mix to combine. Add the salt and flour, and mix on low until just combined, then add the chopped hazelnuts and mix briefly to incorporate.

Set aside 300g of the shortbread in a bowl, and place in the fridge until needed. Transfer the rest to the lined baking tin, pressing down to form an even layer with an offset spatula or flat bottom of a drinking glass.

Dock the shortbread using a fork, then bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Place the diced rhubarb and strawberry in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste. In a small separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, tapioca starch, and salt. Add to the bowl along with the fruit, and then mix to combine, ensuring the fruit is evenly coated with the starch mixture.

Transfer the fruit mixture to the slightly cooled shortbread, flattening down gently to make an even layer.

Sprinkle the reserved shortbread over the surface of the fruit - I like to press some of it together with my fingers to make bigger crumbs so that there is some size variation.

Return the baking tin to the oven and bake for a further 55 to 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Check it at 40 minutes and tent with foil in for the remainder of the bake time if the topping looks as if it is getting too golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature (this can be sped up in the fridge). Remove from the tin using the parchment paper sling.Slice using a sharp knife.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature - they are best the day of or the day after they are made.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - a brown butter hazelnut shortbread is used as both the base and the crumble topping for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. These are the perfect early summer easy dessert! #crumbbars #strawberryrhubarb #brownbutter

Rhubarb Shortcake Bars


 
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake
Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake

It’s not tooo too often that I will go back and update recipes on here. I’ve read a bunch of places of people going back and re-shooting old posts, updating recipes, etc. I totally understand adding in extra SEO (because we are all slaves to google), but for me, I kinda love going back and seeing my old photos in recipes. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come - something that I was so proud of then may look so different to something I’m proud of now, but I think, for me, that it’s nice to leave up old photos to kind of see where I started from. I’m a huge believer in “good for you, not for me”, and can totally see why people do it, I just love looking back at old stuff!

I will however, tweak recipes. If I am riffing off of a recipe (which I do a lot - looking at you, brioche dough), and I make a little change that I think makes the recipe better, or find a wee trick that makes things easier (like the mac post to end all mac posts with everything we have discovered so far), i’ll edit it. Or in the case of this Rhubarb Shortcake Bar recipe - i’ll go back and change an element to the re-tested one, because it’s easier to work with and makes the recipe better on a whole. Fun for the whole family.

These Rhubarb Shortcake bars (we call them a ‘slice’ in Nz) have been floating round in my head for a while now, and I’m so glad that I finally made them. They are a riff on this recipe, which is a version of something that I swear every Grandma in NZ had an epic recipe for - apple shortcake. Unlike shortcake in the states, this shortcake is more of a sweet, short pastry, which encases a fruity layer. You make a vanilla bean short pastry (a pate sucree), which you divide in two. You then roll it out, and place the first piece in the tin, then top it with a fruit mix, thickened with a little starch and sweetened with a little sugar. You then place the second piece of pastry on top as a lid, and bake the whole thing as one - the pastry has a teeny bit of leavener in it, which gives it a bit of rise, and the fruit filling goes somewhat like a pie filling - soft and tart and slightly thick, which is just so perfect against the pastry. These are an absolute fave of mine. I always loved the apple version as a kid, and the apricot version is so good when it is peak stone fruit season (can’t wait to make it with peaches!), but rhubarb is my forever favourite.

These are super easy to make, and I found a few wee tricks that worked for me to make them pretty foolproof. The main one is the pastry - I initally made the pastry from the apricot version (which I’ve now updated to be the same as this), and found that it wasn’t as easy to work with as I would have liked. There wasn’t enough of it, it got weird holes in it, and it was just stressful. So I changed up the method a bit, making it in the stand mixer rather than by hand, increasing the quantity, and working out a method for rolling it out and trimming it down which makes it super, super easy to make. I’ve made my fair share of rollout cookies, and always find that freezing the dough before you cut it gives you the cleanest edge, so I applied that method to this too, rolling the dough out on a piece of parchment rather than on the bench, which means you can pop it in the freezer, then once firm, trim down to exactly the right size for your pan. This means that there is no scary transfer with rolled fragile dough on a rolling pin - you can just plonk the piece of dough right down, and you are good to go!

A few wee tips:

  • I like to give the pastry a wee bit of time to chill, so that it is easier to roll out.

  • The method I have found to be easiest to roll this out and to get a nice clean cut is to roll it on a piece of parchment. I roll it out once, then kind of trim a square the size of the tin, then cut the excess off, and squish it back onto the square, and re-roll to make it a bit thicker. Probably not technical, but it is the least wasteful way, and you end up with as thick of a piece of pastry as possible!

  • Because of my squish and roll technique (that’s the technical term), the bottom of the piece of pastry is probably going to be the smoothest, so once you have trimmed it, you can flip it if you want to make sure the smooth piece is facing up. This isn’t as important on the bottom, but I like to have the top piece with it’s neatest part showing, so I just pop another piece of parchment on top, and flip it before I transfer it. If your dough is cold, this is easy - pop it back in the freezer for a bit if you are worried.

  • If you’re good with pastry you probably don’t have to muck around with my freezing and scoring, but it means that you get a super straight edge, and it’s all as neat as possible. Takes a bit of fluffing around, but it’s so satisfying!

  • I used a little stencil I made on the laser cutter when I was dusting these - you could use an old piece of lace, or just a solid dusting of powdered sugar is great too! Funny wee story - I was racing light when I made these and didn’t have any powdered sugar, so what you see is corn starch! hahaha. We just blew it off once we were done before we ate them!

 

 

Rhubarb Shortcake Bars

- Makes 12 large bars -

Sweet Pastry
190g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
450g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Rhubarb Filling
750g trimmed rhubarb, chopped into 1/2” pieces
80g sugar
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt

Powdered Sugar to dust

 

- PROCESS -

SWEET PASTRY

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix just to bring the dough together. Turn out onto a work surface, and bring the dough together lightly with your hands. Divide evenly into two pieces, flatten into rough square shapes, wrap tightly in plastic, and rest in the fridge for an hour.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Line a 9” square baking tin with two pieces of parchment paper, forming a “sling” so that you can easily remove the bars.

Roll out the first piece of pastry on a piece of parchment paper. Measure the size of the tin against the pastry, then trim the edges, and place the excess onto the piece of pastry, and roll out again to smooth - this ensures that your pastry is as thick as possible. Transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes, or until firmed up slightly. Remove from the freezer, and using the tin as a guide, trim to a 9” square. Place in the bottom of the baking tin, trimming if needed.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Place on top of the pastry in the baking tin, flattening down with your hands or the bottom of a glass.

Repeat the rolling process with the second piece of pastry, and place on top of the rhubarb mixture.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool completely in the tin before removing using the slings. Dust with powdered sugar, then slice with a sharp knife.

Store at room temperature covered lightly with a cloth or paper towel - they will go soggy if stored in an airtight container.

Rhubarb Shortcake Bars - Two layers of sweet, short pastry enclose a jammy, rhubarb centre. These rhubarb shortcake bars differ from traditional American shortcake in that they are all baked together, giving you a range in texture - crisp pastry, soft where it hits the tart rhubarb centre, and a dusting of powdered sugar to finish. This recipe is amazingly versatile and works great with any stone fruit or berries. #rhubarb #rhubarbshortcake #shortcake #newzealandshortcake shortcake bars.jpg