Joy the Baker really knows how to do it right. Warmly spiced shortbread dough is topped with fresh strawberry pie filling, and then crumbled on top. The end result is a crumbly, gooey, bright pink pie bar, arriving colorfully just in time for the most vibrant season of the year.
Strawberry Pie Bars
From Joy the Baker
For the Crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Strawberry Filling:
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into bite-size chunks (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
powdered sugar for topping
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8-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. Place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment 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 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. Stir until combined and 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 to combine. The tapioca will look coarse within the mixture. It will dissolve in the oven. Spread the strawberries evenly over the crust. Pinch medium pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly over the top of the strawberry mixture (they won’t cover the top completely but do your best to cover). Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is brown and the strawberry mixture is bubbling. If there are still tapioca bits, take the pan out of the oven and gently stir those berries in so the tapioca gets moistened. 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. Store, wrapped individually or covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.