Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal -- janessweets.blogspot.com -- June 2011

Strawberry Mascarpone Cookie Bars

(This recipe was adapted from the May 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine; see chef Scott Peacock’s recipe for Fresh Raspberry Bars, beginning on page 166.)

Strawberry Mascarpone Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, in 1" chunks

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

About 1 Tbsp. of softened butter, to brush onto sides of foil

3/4 cup high-quality strawberry jam

1 and 1/2 cups hulled ripe strawberries, chopped into small chunks

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at cool room temperature

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 or 3 tablespoons powdered sugar to dust on the baked, cooled bars

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9"x13" metal baking pan with a long sheet of foil, extending it up over the short ends of the pan.

In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, slightly soften the butter by blending on medium speed for just about 30 seconds. Into that, add the brown sugar and kosher salt, mixing on low speed for no more than 1 minute.

Turn the mixer off and pour in the 2 cups of flour, then beat on low speed just until it's incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat until a cohesive, even dough forms; the dough should not be crumbly. Break the dough into small clumps and press it down evenly into your foil-lined pan.

 

Bake this for about 20 minutes, or just until the dough starts to set and look slightly puffy. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on, and cool this on a rack for 5 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

 

Brush the softened butter lightly onto the exposed sides of foil, above the crust, all around the pan. This will help the bars release from the foil when they're ready to be lifted out of the pan and sliced.

Evenly spread all of the jam over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the strawberry chunks atop that.

In the large bowl of your mixer, again with the paddle attachment, beat together the mascarpone cheese and cream cheese on medium/high speed for only about 30 seconds. Then add in the granulated sugar, still at the same speed, along with the 1 Tbsp. of flour, just until blended. Add in the egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until it looks smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl and beaters as needed.

Pour the creamy mixture evenly over the strawberry layer and tip the pan back and forth slightly to help distribute it evenly.

Bake the bars at 350 for about 30 minutes, until just set.

Cool on a rack for one hour, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. When you're ready to cut the bars, firmly grasp the overhanging foil and lift up; if they stay flat and don't buckle then they're cold enough to cut. Peel the foil back from the sides once they're out of the pan, and slice them with a very sharp knife.

If you like, sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the bars before or after slicing, using a fine mesh sieve held at least a foot or more above the bars (helps avoid big drifts of powdered sugar).