Let’s go on a picnic date! We’ll pack a nice spread, unfold our red-and-white checkered blanket, then proceed to ignore the potato salad in favor of the main event: Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Bars.
Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Bars are the taste of early, endless summer, topped with a puff of whipped cream, and gobbled with sticky fingers.
To create these sunny delights, we spread sweet strawberry jam over buttery shortbread, add a light cheesecake topping, then smother our work with fresh berries. Zippy lemon zest dances throughout, creamy cheesecake and shortbread make a perfect couple, and strawberry brings the fruity fun to this summer celebration. Each bite is loaded with the flavor of long days spent playing outside, pretending not to notice Mom calling you home for the night.
Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Bars also include a few sneaky swaps. I love developing lighter twists on traditionally heavy dishes, and these dreamy Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Bars are no exception. The cheesecake layer is made with a combo of Greek yogurt and light cream cheese, and I snuck a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour into the crust. Fear not: all you will taste is buttery shortbread and luscious cheesecake. I served an entire plate to my friends, and no one believed me when I told them the secret ingredients. You’ll fool your friends and create the perfect excuse for a second helping. High-five!
Bright, creamy Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Bars taste worthy of a special occasion, yet are simple enough for a weeknight treat.
Buttery shortbread crust, spread with strawberry jam, and topped with a light lemon cheesecake. Taste summer in every bite.
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon lemon zest, divided (about ½ lemon)
? teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
4 ounces (1/2 block) light cream cheese, softened
½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 and ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice (please don’t use the bottle!)
1 and ½ teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup strawberry preserves (I love Smucker’s Simply Fruit)
Sweetened whipped cream (or frozen non-dairy whipped topping), for garnish
Fresh sliced strawberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a food processor (or in a medium mixing bowl if not using a food processor), lightly pulse the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, and salt. Add butter pieces and pulse just until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. (If not using a food processor, cut butter pieces into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender.) The mixture will feel dry to the touch. Press the mixture onto bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl), beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat just until blended. Mix in the fresh lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla, and remaining ¼ teaspoon lemon zest. Beat well.
Spread preserves over the cooled shortbread. Pour the cream cheese mixture over preserves, spreading to edges. Bake an additional 28 to 32 minutes, or until the cheesecake appears set on top and only jiggles slightly when you wiggle the pan. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours. Cut into bars and garnish with whipped cream and fresh strawberry slices.
Storage Note: Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. To freeze, leave bars ungarnished, wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic, and freeze for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the refrigerator, then top with whipped cream and berries just before serving.