Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars — A buttery shortbread crust topped with cream cheese filling, frosting, and strawberries!! EASY and perfect for spring and summer parties!!
Easy Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars
A few years ago I made these Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars and realized the bars are perfect with strawberries as well. My eyes were bigger than my stomach when I bought 5 pounds of strawberries, and using some in this dessert was a necessary move.
The easy bars consist of a buttery shortbread crust that’s topped with a cream cheese and almond-flavored filling before frosting the bars and topping with strawberries.
Juicy strawberries, sweet frosting, a filling that’s slightly tangy from the cream cheese, and a buttery crust is a perfect marriage of flavors and textures.
What’s in Strawberry Shortbread Bars?
To make this strawberry cream cheese dessert, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Almond extract
- Milk or cream
- Fresh strawberries
How to Make Strawberry Shortbread Bars
First, you’ll need to make the shortbread dough. Once it comes together, press it into the bottom of a 8×8-inch baking pan and bake just until barely set (it’ll be going back into the oven later).
While the crust bakes, beat together the filling. Once the crust has been in the oven for about 15 minutes, pull it out and spread the filling on top. Return the bars to the oven and bake until filling is no longer jiggly.
Once the baked shortbread bars have cooled completely, make the frosting and drizzle over top. The bars needs to set for about 1 hour before you can garnish with strawberries and serve.
How to Store Strawberry Shortbread Bars
These shortbread cream cheese bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days (without strawberries added). I’m comfortable storing frosted items at room temperature, but store in the fridge if you’re not, noting bars could become overly dry in the fridge. Or, store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Tips for Making Strawberry Shortbread Bars
I love almond extract, it’s used in both the filling and the frosting, and the flavor really shines though. If you’re not as fond of it, you can scale back the quantity or replace it with vanilla extract. But I can’t imagine doing either since I want to wear almond extract as perfume.
You MUST wait for the cream cheese shortbread bars to cool completely before frosting them. If you frost the bars while they’re still warm, the frosting will run all over.
Note that the berries can run and bleed into the frosting, so if you’re serving this for an important event make sure not to add strawberries until just before serving.
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- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft (1 stick)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional or to taste
- 4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened (lite is okay)
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 to 2 teaspoons almond extract (I used 2)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, very soft almost melting (half of 1 stick)
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons almond extract
- about 2 tablespoons cream or milk
- about 3/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced or sliced into small pieces
Make the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or a handheld electric mixer on low, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form. The softer the butter is, the quicker and easier it is.
- Turn mixture out into prepared pan and hard-pack it with a spatula to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer.
- Bake crust for about 15 minutes, or just until barely set (pan is going back in oven so don’t overbake or crust will be crumbly). While crust bakes, prepare the filling.
Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl (same one is fine, just wipe out with a paper towel), add all filling ingredients, and whisk by hand or beat with an electric mixer on medium until smooth and combined. I prefer a stronger almond flavor and use 2 teaspoons extract, if you don’t, scale the amount back.
- After crust has baked for about 15 minutes, remove pan from the oven, and evenly pour filling mixture over the crust. Filling will likely slide into place, but lightly spread it into corners using a spatula if necessary.
- Return pan to oven and bake for about 16 to 19 minutes, or until filling is no longer jiggly in the center and edges have begun to set up; filling will set up more as it cools.
- Remove pan from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make the Frosting:
- In a large microwave-safe bowl (same one is fine, just wipe out with a paper towel), add the butter and heat for about 30 seconds in the microwave or until it’s very soft and almost melting but not actually liquifying.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and slowly drizzle in the cream while whisking by hand or beating with an electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency.
- Evenly frost the bars, smoothing frosting lightly with a spatula as necessary.
- Allow bars to cool in pan uncovered for at least 1 hour (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so frosting can set up.
- Before serving, evenly sprinkle with strawberries.
- Tip – The berries can run and bleed into the frosting, so if you’re serving this for an important event, make sure not to add strawberries until just before serving.
- Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days (without strawberries added). I’m comfortable storing frosted items at room temp; store in the fridge if you’re not, noting bars could become overly dry in the fridge, or store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Adapted from Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g
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