Following last week’s epic birthday cake, I thought a recipe a little less time and energy intensive was necessary this week – something that doesn’t take a day of planning and multiple components of cake layers, buttercream, lemon curd, meringue, cooking time, decoration time… instead, something you might make quickly on the morning you have friends over for coffee, for an easy dessert, or just to fill the tins for weekday baking. If you are anything like me, morning tea coffee doesn’t feel quite complete without something sweet alongside it.
Enter these strawberry, rhubarb & pistachio bars. Adapted from last summer’s apricot version (and one of the first recipes I posted here!), I remember being surprised at just how good the pistachio frangipane was when coupled with fresh apricots, a sweet nutty paste that is quite transformed from raw pistachios still tucked in their shell. However, apricot season hasn’t quite got underway yet, and with the abundance of strawberries around here it seemed the obvious replacement.
It really worked. A crisp, buttery shortbread-like base is topped with pistachio paste and covered with tangy, sweet rhubarb and strawberries, with the time in the oven bringing out the ripe, oozy fruit juices and bright pink colour.
All the decadent Thanksgiving recipes around lately had me feeling a little out of it here in New Zealand, where it isn’t celebrated and we are heading into hot and humid summer weather – so I figure this slice skips straight into Christmas colours, all green and red and celebratory. If you are in the Northern hemisphere, you could try replacing the strawberries with a different fruit, but be careful with frozen berries as they might be too juicy/liquidy for the base. You could also change up the type of nut – I imagine a walnut paste with caramelized apples and caramel sauce drizzled over (coupled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course!) would go down pretty well. Or a hazelnut base with chocolate chips and roast pears scattered on top for a nutella-like combo…
It does look its best on the day it is made, covered in a dusting of icing sugar and sliced warm, but kept in the fridge it lasts a while. Best of all, all the work is done by a food processor or blender, meaning limited dishes and less than half an hour prep time.
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 113 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold
- 110g (3/4 cup) shelled unsalted pistachios
- 1½ tablespoons flour
- pinch of salt
- 75g (6 tablespoons) sugar
- 70g (5 tablespoons) butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 400 g strawberries and rhubarb, chopped
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Icing sugar to dust
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line the base and sides of a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the chunks of butter and process until it forms large clumps - this may take a minute or so. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the tin. Bake for 15 minutes or until very pale golden.
- In your food processor (don't bother washing it out), grind the pistachios, flour, salt, and sugar to a powder (or as fine as you can make it!). Add the butter and process until no longer visible. Add the egg and vanilla, blending until it forms a smooth paste.
- Spread the filling evenly over the cooked base.
- Toss the sliced fruit with the orange zest and juice, and evenly spread over the pistachio paste.
- Bake the slice for 50 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the pistachio comes out clean. Leave in pan to cool.
- Dust with icing sugar to decorate and cut into squares.
- Keep left over slice in the fridge in an air-tight container.