I’ve already divulged that it’s a minor miracle that these bars came to be. These bars were meant to be the vehicle for the strawberry-rhubarb jam I wrote about yesterday. The only vehicle. But then I had to go and sample the jam and the next thing I knew, everything I saw the in kitchen was screaming out for a slather of jam: english muffins, crackers, spoons!
But somehow the jam survived. Good thing, too, because it went on to become the tart red ribbon running through the middle of these bars, which Kevin declared “Pop Tarts for Grown-Ups!” And that is very high praise, in case you’re wondering. I can see the comparison to everyone’s favorite toasted treat. Like pop tarts, these bars are a marriage of a buttery base and a fruit filling. But that’s where the similarities end, because these bars swap the frosting and sprinkles for a buttery-oatmeal-crumble topping, the high-fructose corn syrup-laden filling for fresh jam (mmmm), and the transfatty pastry for a buttery (did I mention there’s a lot of butter?) shortbread crust.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
But Kevin stands by his comparison. To prove his point, he ate one for breakfast yesterday morning. (Busted!)
Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Bars
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour, divided
3/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, divided
1 1/2 cups strawberry-rhubarb jam (or other fruit preserves)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
In a stand mixer, beat the 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the stand mixer and beat until incorporated. Using floured hands, gather the butter mixture into a ball in the mixer bowl. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust has begun to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven to cool slightly while preparing the remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the remaining 1/4 stick of butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the brown sugar, soda, oats and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Spread the 1 1/2 cups of jam over the baked crust. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the jam. Bake for 30 minutes or until the oat topping has become golden.