Healthy Strawberry Crumble Bars

Healthy Strawberry Crumble Bars

This delicious dessert tastes like a combination of pie and cookie bars! These crumble bars have a soft sugar cookie crust, sweet berry filling, and oat streusel topping. They’re perfect for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, even Mother’s Day… Or just any day you’re craving something sweet and fruity! Leftovers will keep for at least five days (if not longer!) if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 16.

Recipe by Amy’s Healthy Baking.

INGREDIENTS

for the topping:
½ cup (50g) instant oats (gluten-free if necessary and measured correctly — see Notes!)
2 tbsp (15g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured correctly — see Notes!)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp pure maple syrup, room temperature
2 tsp coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:
1 pound (454g) fresh whole Red Blossom strawberries, diced (about 3 cups — and see Notes!)
1 ½ tbsp (12g) cornstarch

for the crust:
1 ¼ cups (150g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured correctly — see Notes!)
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp (45mL) unsweetened cashew milk, room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
1 ½ tsp liquid stevia
2 tbsp (30mL) pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line an 8”-square pan with parchment paper (or coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray).
  2. To prepare the topping, stir together the oats, flour, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center. Pour in the maple syrup and coconut oil or butter, and stir until all ingredients are completely incorporated.
  3. To prepare the filling, gently toss together the strawberries and cornstarch.
  4. To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour, baking power, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil or butter, milk, almond extract, and liquid stevia. Stir in the maple syrup. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
  5. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan into a thin, even layer using your hands. (If it sticks to your fingers, then moisten your fingers with a tiny bit of water, and continue as needed.) Spread the filling evenly across the crust. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the raspberries. (It tends to clump, so break it into really tiny pieces as you go!) Bake at 350°F for 32-37 minutes or until the topping feels firm, the strawberry juices look thick, and the crust appears to be done. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan, and let the bars rest for at least 3 hours once at room temperature before slicing and serving.

 

NOTES:

Instant oats are also called “quick cooking” or “one minute” oats. They’re smaller and thinner than traditional old-fashioned rolled oats. In a pinch, old-fashioned oats may be substituted.

In the topping, whole wheat pastry flour, regular whole wheat flour, or all-purpose flour may be substituted for the white whole wheat flour. Any gluten-free flour (except coconut flour!) may be used for the gluten-free flour option.

In the crust, use a store-bought gluten-free flour blend, and measure it correctly (see below!).

Remember to measure the flour and oats correctly, using the spoon-and-level method or a kitchen scale. Too much of either ingredient will dry out the streusel topping and sugar cookie crust.

Agave or honey may be substituted for the maple syrup.

Make sure to dice the strawberries so they’re really small! They should be no larger than the size of miniature chocolate chips. This small size ensures your bars bake evenly and also makes the bars easier to slice.

You cannot substitute additional pure maple syrup for the liquid stevia because the cookie crust requires a precise balance of wet and dry ingredients. However, you may substitute ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (120g) coconut sugar (or brown sugar or granulated sugar, if you aren’t concerned about keeping these cookies clean eating friendly) for both the pure maple syrup and stevia in the cookie bars, but the crust won’t be as sweet and will appear “speckled” if using coconut sugar because it doesn’t dissolve as well.

Any milk may be substituted for the unsweetened cashew milk.

If you aren’t a fan of almond extract, then substitute vanilla extract instead.

If you prefer a thicker layer of streusel, then double the topping.

If lining the pan with parchment paper, I highly recommend clamping it to the pan’s edges with binder clips to prevent it from moving around when you press the crust across the bottom.