Recipe courtesy of Julie Beckwith

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Bars

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min (plus cooling)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: about 16
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Ingredients

For the crust:

1 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

For the filling:

1 1-ounce package freeze-dried strawberries

2 cups white chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

For the topping:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Directions

  1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Melt the butter with the cocoa powder, sugar and espresso powder in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk the heavy cream and egg in a small bowl. Whisk in a few tablespoons of the butter-cocoa mixture, then pour into the saucepan. Cook, whisking, until combined and thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds and vanilla bean paste. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely in the pan.
  3. Make the filling: Pulse half of the freeze-dried strawberries (about 1 cup) in a food processor until slightly powdery with a few pieces remaining. Set aside the remaining strawberries for topping.
  4. Put the white chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over the white chocolate chips. Let sit until softened, 3 to 5 minutes; stir until smooth. (If the chips are not fully melted, microwave in 20-second intervals until smooth.) Stir in the strawberry powder. Spread over the cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  5. Make the topping: Microwave the semisweet chocolate chips with the shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Spread evenly over the filling. Gently crush the reserved freeze-dried strawberries and sprinkle over the top. Cover and refrigerate until set. Lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang and cut into bars.
  6. Freeze-dried strawberries have a ton of flavor. You just have to make sure you don?t pulverize them into too fine a powder; you want to be able to see the nice red flecks.
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