Strawberry limemade is a very refreshing drink that I just adore during the warm months of summer. It’s like strawberry lemonade Sweet strawberries and zesty lime are a good flavor combination in desserts, as well, as their contrasting flavors bring out the best in each other. These Strawberry Limeade Bars were inspired by delicious strawberry limeade.
There is plenty of fresh lime juice in the filling, but the berry flavor comes from a surprising place: freeze dried berries. Freeze dried strawberries work extremely well in a recipe like this one because they don’t change the texture of the filling, adding plenty of berry flavor without extra liquid. The result is a filling that has a nice balance of lime and strawberries, with a silky texture and a good filling-to-crust ratio. The filling for this recipe should be made in a food processor or a blender (I used a blender) because you need to pulverize the freeze-dried strawberries into a fine powder so that they will blend in with the rest of the filling ingredients.
The freeze dried berries will give a lovely pink color to your filling, but you may find that you need to add a few drops of red food coloring if the pink isn’t quite the shade you’re looking for. There are quite a few eggs in this recipe and the egg yolks, if they are on the darker side, can give the pink filling a slightly orange tint. A few drops of red food coloring is optional, but you might find you want to add it just to enhance the natural color of the strawberries.
As usual, I used my hot crust method with these bars. It’s my favorite way to make bar cookies (and anything else with two part crust + filling setup, such as cheesecake) because it is so easy and saves so much time. The shortbread crust is prepared and pressed into the pan, the baked until it just starts to brown. The filling is prepared while the crust is in the oven, then poured on top of the hot crust and returned to the oven to bake until set. The crust remains crisp, the filling gets a kick-start on the baking time by starting out on a hot base and the whole dessert can be ready to go in less than an hour. That said, I do recommend chilling these bars for at least an hour before serving because it makes them easier to slice, but they’ll be ready to eat right away.
The bars will keep well in the refrigerator for at least a couple of days after baking. If possible, wait to cut up the bars until you are ready to serve them for optimal freshness. I usually get about 24 bars from one batch, but you can certainly make your slices smaller or larger.
Strawberry Limeade Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into 7-8 pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped freeze dried strawberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
2/3 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
optional: 4-5 red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350F. Get out a 9×13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter to flour mixture and toss to coat. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until no pieces larger than a small pea remain and the mixture resembles fine sand. This can also be done in the food processor by pulsing all the ingredients together until well-combined.
Pour crumb mixture into pan and press down firmly into an even layer.
Bake for 19-21 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
While crust is baking, make filling. In a blender or food processor, combine freeze dried strawberries with sugar. Pulse until berries are finely ground into the sugar. Add lime juice and sour cream, then pulse to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in eggs and egg yolk and pulse until smooth. If the color is not as pink as you would like, add in a few drops of red food coloring.
When the crust comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour in filling mixture.
Bake for about 17-19 minutes, or until filling is set and does not jiggle when the pan is gently shaken.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing.
Makes about 24 bars.