As human beings, we live our lives in hopes to find “the one” someday—the one who we’re meant to be with. When you’ve found “the one”, you finally see the truth to the corny statement: “you complete me”, you discover how weirdly similar you two are, and that being with them just feels like home.
Just like how magical it feels to have this kind of connection with another being, it’s a beautiful thing when strawberry meets rhubarb, not to mention delicious! Rhubarb comes off as sour and tart, but strawberry compliments these flavors with its natural sweetness—you know, like an old married couple: a grumpy grandpa and the sweetest, most patient grandma. Some things are simply meant for each other.
Sure, I get it, rhubarb is weird, and who would want a vegetable in their dessert? Yes, it’s a vegetable—it looks like celery and tastes like what you would imagine sour celery would taste like (if it existed). Mixing it with strawberries though and a little sugar makes it taste like any good summer berry.
Then, when you introduce a little extra sweetness to it, like, oh, I don’t know, CHEESECAKE FILLING AND STREUSEL TOPPING, it becomes extra magical. Basically, these bars are a layer of graham cracker crust, cheesecake filling, strawberry and rhubarb, and streusel topping.
If you’re skeptical about rhubarb, try this recipe and you’ll never look back. If you’re keen to it, then you’re in for a treat! Strawberry and rhubarb have officially reached another level!
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups fresh rhubarb (about 2½ large stalks), diced
- 1 cup fresh strawberries (about 10-11 strawberries), hulled and diced
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ---FOR STREUSEL TOPPING---
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 6 tablespoons quick cooking oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter, cold and diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom and all sides of the pan with parchment paper.
- MAKE THE CRUST. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and brown sugar until creamy. Mix in ½ teaspoon vanilla. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Press the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
- MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING. Back to the electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and ¼ cup granulated sugar together until smooth. Add the egg and ½ teaspoon vanilla, and mix until combined. Pour over the partially-baked crust and spread evenly.
- MAKE THE FRUIT TOPPING. In a medium bowl, stir together rhubarb, strawberries, ¼ cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Sprinkle evenly over cream cheese filling.
- MAKE THE STREUSEL TOPPING: In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until you have a pea-sized crumb-like mixture. Sprinkle topping over the fruit mixture. Bake again for 40-45 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares before serving.