CHOCOLATE, this is something I’m never bored of. I mean it! How can anyone be bored of chocolates? You can unfriend me if you dislike chocolates.
Good chocolates always have a place in my pantry. And good strawberries are seasonal. I’m wary of buying strawberries off the shelf. Rarely, I land up with sweet strawberries. Anyway I picked this pack of organic strawberries just to find out that it wasn’t sweet enough for snacking. I was not in a mood to bake anything. But, I had to use these berries before it started rotting in the refrigerator.
I didn’t have anything in mind. Since we were going to Gilroy for a day long shopping, I wanted to take something to snack on the way. The berries became bars!
As usual, I searched for recipes online. Listlessly browsing, I bumped into this recipe . I tweaked and made it a wee bit healthy. If whole wheat is considered healthy, then these bars are ‘healthy’ sans the amount of butter used. The husband loved it though the crumbs were all over his shirt. We loved it. The long drive to Gilroy wasn’t tiring as I knew I’m going to do something that makes me happy. Oh yeah! You’re right. It’s shopping. That too at discounted prices 😉
On the way, I went down the memory lane. (You can skip and go to the recipe. Else be prepared to read my long story)
Two years! Yes, this month marks two years of American living. Amreeka! Amerrica! Amedicar as fess says in That 70s Show.
It was 2007. My first time to visit USA. Back then I lived in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve heard visa denials stories which left me fluttery in the stomach. I mustered up the courage and applied for the visa. Fixed an interview. Walked inside the consulate after a thorough security check. The officer asked me a couple questions. I replied. She retained the passport. I didn’t ask her why she needed my passport. After 3 days, I received my passport via courier. There it was stamped, visitor’s visa to the USA. I smiled, thanked God and packed my bags.
The first city I landed was NYC. I love the energy of this city that never sleeps. I had a long must-see list. Times square, Statue of liberty, Ellis island, Staten island ferry, Empire state building, Rockefellar center, Central park, Madame Tussauds, 9/11 Memorial which made me teary, Brooklyn bridge, Broadway, Downtown Manhattan, Chinatown, Union square, Fifth Avenue are the spots I visited. Then a short trip to Niagara falls, NY. Later I visited St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL. Flew back to Dublin after 2 weeks of fun.
Again, I was back in 2008. This time to Seattle, WA. I love this place. Guess why? The reason was the premium outlet in Tulalip. I can spend days in this place. It is a shopper’s haven. I visited Seattle thrice just for the shopping experience.
Year 2009. The best travel experience thus far. I planted my foot in 9 different countries plus a surgery in my right hand. Nothing stopped me from venturing out to the Far-East, Europe and USA. Las Vegas it was! Spent my birthday watching ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and Cirque du Soleil’s KÁ.
Life was good.
I visited the States regularly. I loved spending time in different places, shopping and the inexpensive food.
Then marriage happened. I moved from Ireland to Raleigh, NC. By then, my man had a offer in Columbus, OH. We rented a U-haul truck, packed our things, towed the car and drove from Raleigh to Columbus. It was 500 miles in one and half days. The scenic drive through the Appalachians was worth the trouble.
This is where I really set up something close to a home for two. I also learned to cook 3 times a day, shop for household stuff, regularize my schedule to do household chores and also started this blog. I was officially a ‘HOME MAKER’. I under estimated the effort involved in being one. Now I can write a thesis on the practical details.
We didn’t live in Columbus for long. Less than a year, we moved to upstate New York. I wasn’t impressed with the three feet tall snow on the road side that welcomed us. I love snow, just on Christmas greeting cards. After all, I was born and raised in sunny places. In real life, I want sand and sun.
By God’s grace, within a few weeks we moved to California. A year plus in the SF Bay Area, Silicon Valley to be precise has been good. We love it here. It took a few months for us to get settled. I abandoned my blog for few months, focused on making a home for us, got to know places around here, met blogger friends and trying to live a life the way I wished. Peaceful, happy and content!
These were the thoughts that flashed in my mind on the way to Gilroy. I relived the shopping experience once again in this premium outlet. Okay! I’m done with the story telling. Let’s head to the recipe now.
Makes 10-12 bars. Depends on how big you cut the bars.
This recipe has three components
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced and chilled
- ⅓ cup sugar * I used organic cane sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 cups strawberries, chopped. I used organic berries.
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder. I used Valrhona. It does not matter whether it’s natural or Dutch processed.
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Cheat tip – If you have no strawberries, use a cup and half strawberry preserve mixed with 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. Mix well and use as a filling.
- ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
- ⅔ cup rolled oats. You can use quick oats
- ¼ cup sliced pecans. Can be substituted with almonds
- ½ cup turbinado sugar. You can use white sugar
- 6 tbsp butter, diced and chilled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make sure the butter is cold. You can stick the butter inside the freezer for 10 mins and then dice it.
- In a large bowl combine crust ingredients. Using a pastry blender or food processor or a large fork combine until crumbly. Do not use your fingers as the warmth will melt the butter. You’ll have a nicely mixed dough instead of a crumbly mix which is what we want.
- Press the crumbly dough using a steel ladle into an 8×8 pyrex dish or parchment paper lined baking pan. Place into the pre heated oven and bake about 15 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove and set aside.
- Prepare the filling. Mix strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a pan. Simmer over medium heat for about 5-7 mins. Once the mix starts bubbling, add the cocoa powder. Then, add the cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Mix well and keep aside. The consistency should be that of strawberry preserve.
- For the topping, mix all the ingredients. Make a crumble. Keep the crumble in the refrigerator while you spoon the strawberry chocolate filling over the crust. Then top with the crumble mix.
- Bake for 35 mins or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cool it for at least an hour before slicing. This keeps well for a day at room temperature. Stored in an air tight container, keeps fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator. Ours didn’t last that long.
Enjoy this bar as a dessert with a dollop of ice cream or a snack with tea.