Berry season is right around the corner. Well, almost.
I go crazy for berries when they come into season and sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I buy a pint of raspberries, a couple pints of blueberries, and there was that buy one-get one sale on strawberries.
Before I know it I’m up to my eyeballs in fresh berries and need to start finding creative uses for them including baking with them.
But here’s a little secret, I didn’t make this recipe with fresh berries because it’s not berry season, yet I was craving something baked with berries.
I had a bag of mixed berries burning a hole in my freezer and the coconut flakes and white chocolate chips that I incorporated were burning a hole in my cupboard so I tossed them in, too.
Berry lovers, this one’s for you.
The base layer of the bars is a combination of whole rolled oats, cake mix, butter, and an egg.
That doughy layer is topped with coconut and white chocolate chips and baked until juicy perfection.
These bars turned out ridiculously gooey, sticky, and juicy from the natural berry juices.
The sweetened condensed milk made them oh-so-creamy and sweet.
Berries ‘n sweet cream is always a good combo.
Creamy Mixed Berry White Chocolate Crumble Bars (with Vegan and Gluten Free Suggestions)
Makes 16 bars
1 2/3 cups vanilla, white, or yellow cake mix (I used 1 cup white, 2/3 cup yellow based on what I had open)
1 cup old fashioned whole rolled oats
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups berries (I used a frozen berry blend of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries; use what you have, fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup white chocolate chips, optional*
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes, optional*
1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-by-9 inch pan by lining it with aluminum foil and then spraying it with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, oats, butter, egg, vanilla and mix either with a mixer, with a spoon, or with your hands, kneading it together. The batter will be thick, tacky, and may be difficult to combine, but keep stirring or use your fingers and knead it together, adding a splash of water if absolutely necessary in order to combine. Press the dough it into the prepared pan. It will be tacky, sticky, and a bit tricky to work with, but keep pressing, spreading, and finessing it.
Sprinkle the berries, then sprinkle the white chocolate chips and coconut, evenly over the top of the dough. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, using a spatula to gently spread and even it if necessary. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until edges of bars begin to barely brown and pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, taking care not to overbake. Note that the middle will not seem very well set and although it will be bubbling, the middle will be jiggly and juicy upon removing from oven and that is okay, you want to keep these gooey. They will continue to set up more after they have cooled but don’t be alarmed if you cannot get perfect squares as these are made to be soft and gooey. Allow bars to cool well before slicing and serving. Optionally, dust with confectioner’s sugar, top with whipped topping or ice cream before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.
To keep vegan, use a vegan cake mix, a flax egg, vegan white chocolate chips, and coconut milk (full-fat), sweetened to taste with agave/maple syrup/sugar, in place of the sweetened condensed milk. To keep gluten-free, use gluten free cake mix. Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs.
*If you do not like white chocolate, you can omit entirely or use milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips. Use slivered almonds in place of the coconut flakes if you don’t like coconut.
I used some white cake mix and some yellow cake mix because I had a couple bags open from other baking projects. Doesn’t everyone have 10 flavors of cake mix on hand and at least 6 boxes open at any given time? Okay, don’t answer that.
Use what you have, like, or have open: vanilla, white, yellow, strawberry would be phenomenal, and I could even see lemon cake mix working in these (maybe half lemon, half white).
Make the dough with the oats, cake mix, egg, vanilla, and press it into the prepared pan.
Top with berries (fresh or frozen, any combination and variety you like), top with white chocolate chips and coconut flakes (or other toppings such as semi-sweet chocolate chips, slivered almonds, other nuts, toffee bits, or toppings you like)
And then bake them, taking care not to overbake. These will look very gooey and underbaked even after the suggested baking time, but take them out of the oven anyway and let them cool. They will firm up considerably upon cooling, but they are still a very ooey, gooey, messy dessert.
The best kind.
They rival these Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation) in terms of their gooey, messy, sticky, hard to cut and hold their shape because they’re so juicy factor.
Look at the drippy sweetened condensed milk and berry juice. I wish I could bottle that and drink it any time I need a little pick-me-up.
Why bother with dry cardboard-like desserts when you could have gooey? I will never understand that or who buys $5 scones from fancy bakeries that look like blended woodchips with water added and baked. Overpriced hockey pucks. No thanks.
I think these would be a pretty baby shower, bridal shower, engagement party, brunch, or girly birthday party dessert. Regardless, they’re sweet and very creamy with a variety of textures going on from the berries, oats, cake, coconut, and chocolate chips.
A little bit of everything in every bite. Just the way I like my desserts.
Another pink, springtime, brunch, bridal shower recipe are these Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting. The cookies call for half a box of strawberry cake mix; use the other half to make today’s creamy berry bars.
Other related Berry Recipes:
Microwave Strawberry Vanilla Mug Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Glaze – No actual cake mix needed, and many people have written to say they’ve made this successfully both vegan and GF. The best use of 90 seconds of time, ever.
Microwave Blueberry Banana Oat Cakes – Vegan, GF, two minutes. Substitute any kind of berry for the blueberries
Mixed Berry Clafoutis – This recipe does not get as much love as it deserves. It’s as easy as making pancake batter despite the fancy name. Make the batter in a blender or Vita and it literally takes 30 seconds to make, pour over berries, and bake. It’s incredibly decadent, rich, and I describe it as fancy-tasting custard-meets-flan-meets-pudding.
Wash it all down with…
Strawberries and Cream Smoothie (Vegan, GF)
Coconut Water Champagne Fruit Punch (Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, No Sugar Added, Small Batch)
Do you like berries?
I love them! Raspberries are truly a delicacy. My dad had raspberry bushes when I was growing up and for about 330 days a year we had none.
For about one month of the year, we had more berries than we could eat and my mom would bake with them, make bars, breads, muffins, crumbles, can raspberry jam, make freezer jam, and we’d give away what we couldn’t use. I could use some homegrown raspberries right about now, though.
Blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cannot go wrong with any of those, either.
What are your favorite berries and how do you like to use them?
Aside from just eating with them as is, I’m always looking for fun new recipes to try.
Thanks for the Kitchen Aid 7-Quart Stand Mixer entries
And the new Tofu Xpress Tofu Press Giveaway entries