a heart felt thought on life in the time of....
wow. its been a long time since i worked on this recipe. im pretty sure these strawberry rhubarb + tahini mascarpone crumble bars were one of the last recipes i tested (and gave away) right before the quarantines and lockdowns started full force. its a quaint memory- being excited to find rhubarb in the store...in february!! what a treat! you know, its actually kind of nice to let myself slip into those precious memories.
I have this feeling we are beginning a new phase of life. i wonder what the next months and years will bring. this in between makes me anxious. other times sad. yet, there are those moments. more frequent than i thought possible. i find myself getting excited about finding.....rhubarb! the perfect strawberry! the last jar of tahini on the shelf!
as strange as this new phase is, i find hope in those small moments. where once they may have been overlooked, they now bring joy. a smile beneath a mask from a friend. a letter in the mail from a loved one. a trip to your favorite grocery store for groceries. but, also to say hello to the people who have literally watched your babies grow up. ok, this one was mine. the employees at my local trader joes have my heart. these things matter. more now than they did before. those are the reminders. there is still life to live. there are still moments to cherish. there is hope.
now about these strawberry rhubarb + tahini mascarpone crumble bars
these bars are something special. they taste like a creamy, elevated pb + j cheesecake meets pie, but in bar form. they are unlike anything i have made before. these bars are made from four different layers:
- a buttery almond flour crust
- creamy tahini + mascarpone cheese filling
- a tart and sweet strawberry rhubarb jam
- a spiced tahini oat crumble
tell me more about each layer
browned butter almond flour crust: this is one of my favorites to use on everything from cookie bars, fudge and cheesecake. almonds and browned butter were made for each other. browning butter is melting butter in a pan, allowing the fat to brown. it elevates everything you use it in by providing a nutty, caramelized flavor.
creamy tahini mascarpone cheese: this layer combines two loves of mine- tahini + mascarpone cheese. its sweetened with a bit of sugar and flavored with both vanilla and almond extracts.
strawberry rhubarb jam: this layer is equally tart and sweet. cook down 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen strawberries with 1 cup fresh or frozen rhubarb. add in sugar, water, heat and time. voila, jam!
spiced tahini oat crumble: grab some oats, flour, brown sugar, spices and tahini. combine in in a bowl. crumble in your hands.
in short, these bars are all the most delectable words put together into the most delicious little treat. they also happen to be easy to customize based on what you have on hand!
ingredient swaps to make these bars shine
don't have all the ingredients and you NEED to make the recipe? i totally get that!! been there. lots of times. swaps for these strawberry rhubarb + tahini mascarpone crumble bars are:
- homemade strawberry rhubarb jam: for this i would recommend using a high quality jam. or, at least one you LOVE. the homemade recipe makes around 1 cup. maybe a slightly more. if you're going the store bought route, i personally love this brand.
- strawberry and rhubarb: this is a pretty simple swap. you can either omit rhubarb or sub it. for this time of year, raspberries would be great. frozen cranberries or rhubarb work, too!
- tahini: this is such a staple in my house. we eat it more than peanut butter. if you don't have tahini or just plain don't like it, good old PB works. just make sure its smooth and creamy.
- almond flour: you can use any flour you do have on hand. follow the directions as stated, but limit the flour to 1 1/2 cup (about 180g if using all purpose).
- mascarpone: blame it on my love of tiramisu. i greatly prefer mascarpone to cream cheese. its my go to. cream cheese works just as well in this!
- brown sugar: use granulated sugar or coconut sugar in its place.
- extracts and spices: swap cinnamon for the cardamon. omit the almond extract and use 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract in total.
- chill time: this ensures the bars come together and stay together. don't skip it. its essential.
looking for more berry inspired recipes?
more berry recipes are hitting the blog each week. for now, check out these favorites:
- raspberry almond streusel scones
- strawberry + lavender prosecco popsicles
- black cocoa tart with rose water strawberries
- raspberry and cardamon semolina cake
strawberry rhubarb + tahini mascarpone crumble bars
- 8X8 metal pan
- parchment paper
- medium sauce pan
brown butter almond flour crust
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, browned (reduced down to 113g) sub with 8 tbsp melted butter (113g)
- 2 c almond flour (224g)
- 1/4 c granulated sugar (50g)
- 1/2 tsp salt
strawberry rhubarb jam
- 1 1/2 c strawberries, quartered with leaves and stems removed
- 1 c rhubarb, sliced into 1/2" slices (~ 2 large stalks)
- 1/2 c water
- 1 c granulated sugar (200g)
- 8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 1/2 c tahini, well stirred (112g)
- 1/3 c sugar (74g)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
tahini oat crumble
- 1 c oats (90g)
- 1/2 c all purpose flour (60g) sub with flour of choice
- 3/4 c light brown sugar (165g)
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted (113g)
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
brown butter almond flour crust
- Line 8X8 baking pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
- To make the brown butter, melt butter in a clear heavy bottom pot. Once the butter starts to foam, whisk continuously until brown bits start to form. Remove from heat, pour into dry ingredients (almond flour, sugar and salt). MIx well to combine. Press into parchment lined baking pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
strawberry rhubarb jam
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce down to simmer and cookfor 25-30 minutes. Jam should easily coat the back of the spoon or spatula. Pour into measuring cup. It should measure about 1 cup. If its significantly over, cook down a bit longer. Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- In a stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together sugar, tahini and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Go slowly at first. Going too fast at the beginning can break the cheese. Once fully incorporated, increase to medium speed, then to high for 3-4 minutes. Add egg and extracts. Whisk addtional minute.
- Mix all ingredients together using your hands. It should resemble a coarse crumble, with some small sand like pieces and some larger pebble size pieces. Place in fridge until ready to top with bars.
assembling the bars
- Spread tahini mascarpone layer on top of the cooled par baked almond flour crust. Drop spoonsful of cooled jam on top of the tahini mascarpone. Spread the jam, without moving the tahini mascarpone. Top with the chilled crumble topping. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
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make sure to tag me on instagram @olivesnthyme. for more delicious dessert ideas follow me on pinterest.
Sophie Vranian says
Next time I make these (and there WILL be a next time!) I would change 3 things:
1. Cut the amount of sugar
2. Choose either cardamom or almond extract, but not both. The cardamom overpowered the almond and I couldn't taste it at all.
3. Use a bigger pan. The crust (while delicious) was too thick in an 8x8.
So SO tasty.
Hi Sophie! Thank you or the feedback. I've updated this recipe to reflect some of the changes based on feedback from others who are making this. Please let me know how these bars turn out the next time you make them with your preferred changes. Id love to know!
I really wanted to like these but I’m not sure I’d make them again. I was so excited by this because there were so many interesting elements but in the end, everything was just clobbered by the tahini and cardamom. What’s even the point of taking the time to brown the butter and make your own strawberry rhubarb jam if all you’ll end up tasting is the tahini? If I were to ever make these again, I would just go the regular melted butter route for the shortbread crust, use store-bought jam and maybe add a little lemon to mimic the sourness of the rhubarb, take out the tahini in the crumble and just use butter, and half the cardamom in hopes of making more space for the other elements to shine.
Hi Cecelia. Thank you for the feedback. Based on your feedback and several others on this recipe I've updated this recipe to reflect some of those suggested changes. Tahini is such a strong flavor that it can overpower other ingredients easily. If you do decide to make these again, please do let me know how they turn out!