From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite... I had hoped to make a blueberry dessert to serve following dinner tonight, but the berries in the market were exorbitantly expensive, so I changed plans and strawberries became the order of the day. Last year, I found a recipe on the Betty Crocker website for dessert squares that were made with strawberries and a vanilla flavored cream cheese. It was an easy recipe that uses one of their cookie mixes and vanilla baking chips to make the beautiful dessert squares that you can see here. I've used their idea to formulate a version that is more to my family's liking. I make an almond flavored shortbread to serve as a base for the dessert and I've swapped white chocolate for the vanilla chips used in the original recipe. Both versions of the dessert are delicious when ripe and fully flavored berries are used to top the squares. Most of the strawberries that come to market these days look wonderful. Unfortunately, a goodly percentage of them taste like cardboard. If you want a dessert that will elict more than a ho-hum response from your family and friends, make sure the berries you use will make your effort worthwhile. There are some limitations to this dessert that you should be aware of. It does not transport well and the squares do not keep well. I suggest not making these more than 4 hours before you plan to serve them. The cornstarch can break down and the topping will become watery if they sit much longer than that. If you keep them refrigerated and eat them during their prime, you will be delighted. The squares are delicious and easy to make. I know those of you who try them will be pleased. Here's the recipe.
Strawberry and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Dessert Squares...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Betty Crocker
Crust1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Cream Cheese Filling
1 cup white chocolate baking chips (6 oz)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
Optional: 10 to 12 drops red food coloring
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) To make crust: Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in bowl of an electric mixer fitter with a paddle attachment. Cream until mixture is light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt and, with mixer on low, add to butter until just mixed. Dump dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack.
3) To make filling: In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla extract with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in melted chips until blended. Spread mixture over crust. Refrigerate while making topping.
4) To make topping: Crush 1 cup of strawberries in a small bowl. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in crushed strawberries and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in food color if using. Cool 10 minutes. Gently stir in remaining 3 cups strawberries. Spoon topping over filling. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set; serve within 4 hours. Store covered in refrigerator. Yield: 20 squares.
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Three Years Ago Today: Blueberry Crumb Bars