What's Baking: Strawberry-Rhubarb Cream Cheese Crumble Bars

Oooh, another dessert recipe! What are the odds? Turns out the odds are pretty high 'round these parts. Now that all kinds of fresh fruits are appearing in the local grocery stores, I am ready to embrace all sorts of summertime crumbles, crisps, and cobblers. Recently, Brenda at a farmgirl's dabbles posted a recipe for her Mom's Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bars, which inspired me to make a strawberry-rhubarb version.

I am still on a strawberry kick and constantly have at least a pint on hand in the refrigerator. When we were in Northern Michigan over the Memorial Day weekend, I harvested several stalks of rhubarb from a neighbor's garden (at his encouragement, of course!). Rhubarb has only just now started to show up in our local natural foods store, though most of the stalks I've seen thus far have been pretty green. (When choosing rhubarb, I look for stalks that are bright red in color and firm to the touch.)

Though the name might be a handful, these strawberry-rhubarb cream cheese crumble bars are actually quite simple to make. To lighten them (slightly), I used neufchatel rather than cream cheese, which has a slightly lower fat content than regular cream cheese. I am a ginger fiend, so I added ground ginger into the pastry dough and candied ginger into the crumble topping -- if you are not as big a fan of ginger flavor, you can omit these additions, or use a different spice of your choice.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cream Cheese Crumble Bars (printer-friendly version)
makes 16 bars

For the dough and crumble topping:
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-2" pieces.
2 teaspoons candied ginger pieces [optional]

For the rhubarb and cream cheese filling:
8 oz. neufchatel cheese, softened [if you prefer, you can use cream cheese]
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped rhubarb [about 2-3 medium size stalks)
1 cup chopped strawberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper (making sure that it overhangs two opposite sides) and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and ginger. Use a pastry blender to cut in the softened butter until the dough resembles pea-sized crumbles. Press half of the dough mixture into the bottom of the prepped baking dish. Stir the candied ginger (if using) into the remaining dough crumbles  and set aside.
3. Add the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until just combined. With the use of a rubber spatula, fold in the rhubarb and strawberries until just combined.
4. Spread the filling over top the crust. Top evenly with the remaining crumble mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Chill in the refrigerator to make cutting the crumble into individual bars easier. Store any remaining crumble bars in the fridge.

(adapted from this a farmgirl's dabbles recipe)


  1. It's easy to be on a strawberry kick. Hope you're doing well! XOGREG

  2. Thanks for supporting my strawberry "problem," Greg. : ) I do hope we get the chance to hang out again sometime soon! -Susan

  3. This recipe had some major issues. The 40 min bake time didn't turn the crust brown at all. And, the crust wasn't the right consistency. More butter in the recipe would've improved this. I also think cooking this in a 9x9 is a mistake. It'd do better in a bigger pan so the crust is thinner.

  4. Oh, I'm sorry to hear that this recipe didn't work out for you, Elisabeth. If you make changes, I'd love to hear how they turn out. I'll be sure to re-test this recipe once rhubarb comes back into season up here in the northwoods.


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