Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars
Truth be told, I was going to save this recipe for a rainy day. Yes, we’re finally into rhubarb season and strawberries are just around the corner, but these gooey strawberry rhubarb crumb bars were supposed to be on hold. Instead, I decided to go ahead and share it right away, because some things are just too good to keep to yourself, ya know?
I have this really bad habit of saving things “for a special occasion.” I love a celebration more than the average bear, and it’s not unusual for me to find myself romanticizing an event with grandiose plans, elaborate treats, or just about anything else that qualifies as extra. It’s not that I want to be over-the-top or too planned out, I just like to save my best for the right moment.
Here’s an example: When Brett and I first got married, I bought this expensive bottle of sake. In my mind, I’d save it for a special dinner when I made homemade sushi or some other type of Asian cuisine and I’d be the cute put-together wife that had just the right beverage for the occasion. Over the next several months, I made Asian food more times than I could count but I never cracked open the bottle because it never felt special enough. Finally, when we moved last December, I found the old bottle all dusty in the back of our cabinet. It was well overdue and no longer good, and I remember being so disappointed that I let that treat go to waste.
I do the same thing with clothes and shoes and those expensive face masks and creams I buy at the store. Always certain that there’s a special occasion worthy of them, I hold off from opening, using, or wearing those items, and before long they’ve been forgotten. Now they don’t fit or they’ve expired or they’re simply out of style. Instead of relishing those treats or sharing them when I had the opportunity, I let them go to waste.
Why do we ration the good things in our life? For so long, I’ve resisted the urge to appreciate and indulge in the gifts I have because the moment doesn’t feel worthy of them. Instead of preserving those things for the right time, I end up wasting them. I think (and hang with me for a minute, because this is going to be a stretch) that we do the same thing with our own personal gifts. Not the tangible items like a pair of earrings or a fancy sofa or a block of imported cheese, but the gifts inside of us. Our talents, our desires, and our dreams. So often, we stifle a vision, we refrain from sharing a kind word with someone, or we hold off on pursuing something we desire because we’re unsure the time is right. What does this waiting accomplish? When we fail to tap into something that we love or that has been gifted to us, we are rarely saving it for a rainy day. Usually we’re putting that idea on the shelf to become dusty and forgotten.
I have some dreams that have been sitting on a shelf for a while. Sometimes I’ll pick them up and consider the possibilities for a moment, but then I usually just toss it back on the shelf with the notion that I’ll think about it when the time is right. But what if that time is right? What if I’ve been allowing fear to bench my gifts and purposes when that perfect moment was just a little effort away? If we wait for one of life’s dramatic curtain calls instead of taking captive those unremarkable moments that make up our days, will we find ourselves waiting for an opportunity that never comes? I’m beginning to think so.
So the purpose of spewing all this rambling your way is this: don’t hide your gift. Share your dreams and talents and ideas with anyone who will listen. Don’t wait forever on an open door when you might have the key to a few closed ones right in front of you. We cheat ourselves and the world when we tuck our gifts out of sight, so hold yours out with open hands and be willing to share them.
Ok, all of that was probably way too serious for these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. This little treats are simple, quick to put together, and entirely delicious, so you’re going to want to share them with everyone. Scout’s honor. I’m sharing today’s recipe in partnership with my friends at Diamond Nuts. On top of all those layers of brown sugar, oats, butter, and fruit jam are savory toasted pecans that round out the flavor perfectly on these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. I’ve come to appreciate a small sprinkle of Diamond Nuts on just about everything I make these days, and here, in these bars, the pecans add just the right amount of toasty crunch to complete these otherwise soft and gooey bars. If you are in need of a go-to nut brand, Diamond is definitely your best bet.
To make these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars, we first have to throw together the quick jam. I used fresh rhubarb and frozen strawberries, but you can use whatever you have on hand. With just a little sugar and water, the fruit cooks down into a thin jam that you can use for these treats, on toast, or even as a filling for a cake that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks. This jam can also be canned, but we won’t go into all of that today.
The next step is to make the oat mixture for the strawberry rhubarb crumb bars. Flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter come together into a clumpy delicious mixture. Pack 2/3 of the mixture into a prepared 8″ pan and bake until just barely set. Spread a little of the cooled jam on top and sprinkle the remaining crumbs and pecans on next. If you want a super fruity and gooey bar you can throw a little extra strawberries in there too. The fruit will weep and juice all over the place making it more akin to a pie bar, so if you’re into that, go for it! For a thinner layer of fruit just stick with the jam. Both are phenomenal, if you ask me.
The bonus of these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars is that they serve a crowd, can be made in a cinch, and freeze like a dream. If you’re not into making homemade jam, feel free to use your favorite store-bought option instead. I personally was ecstatic to find yet another use for that spring rhubarb that I’ve come to covet, so if you happen to see some in your stores, grab it and make these ASAP. They’re fab.
Thanks for listening to me ramble on today, and I hope you love the strawberry rhubarb crumb bars! Many thanks to the kind humans at Diamond Nuts for giving me the opportunity to share this go-to recipe with you all today. Pick up some of their pecans next time you’re at the store and just tell me you don’t taste the difference. I bet you will. Happy baking y’all!
If you like these strawberry rhubarb crumb bars you should check out:
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars
These strawberry rhubarb crumb bars are buttery, pecan-topped bars with a fruity center and oatmeal crust. Perfect for sharing!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 35
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 16
- Category: Dessert
For the bars:
- 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (170 gm) unsalted butter, melted
- ¾-1 cup (see notes) strawberry rhubarb jam
- ½ cup chopped berries (optional)
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
For the strawberry rhubarb jam:
- ¾ pound rhubarb, chopped
- ¾ pound strawberries, hulled
- ¾ cup (150 gm) sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
To prepare the bars:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8” pan with a sheet of greased foil. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the butter until the mixture is consistent. Pack 2/3 (about 2 cups) of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- When finished, spread the jam on top of the cooled crust. If you’re opting to not add fresh fruit, use 1 cup of jam. If you’d like to add fresh fruit, use just ¾ cup. Top with fresh fruit, if desired. Mix the pecans into the remaining crumb layer and then sprinkle on top of the jam and/or fruit. Bake in the preheated oven for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and cutting. You can speed up this process in the fridge.
To prepare the rhubarb jam:
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized pot over low heat. Stir to combine and continue stirring regularly until all of the sugar has dissolved. You can test this by carefully rubbing a little bit of the liquid in the pot between two fingers- it should feel smooth.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring regularly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb and berries have broken down and the mixture is approximately applesauce consistency. Remove from heat and place in a heat-proof bowl to cool in the fridge. This jam will keep in the fridge for approximately 2-3 weeks.
- For gooier juicier bars, opt to add fresh fruit on top of the jam! These will still slice well but are a bit messier. For bars that set well, opt for no fruit. If your fruit isn’t super ripe you can sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top too.