I meet with a group about every six weeks or so to “talk about books” ie eat lots of desserts and have a three minute conversation about the book we read. This month’s book is the latest in the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series. It was lovely.

I also picked-up the latest in a fun series that I read by Joanne Fluke (if you are desperate to hear about it-checkout my other blog for my English students). She always has terrific recipes in her mysteries and this one is a particular WINNER! I used blueberry pie filling as that is what I had but they would be fabulous with strawberry as the recipe calls for.


Strawberry Shortbread Bar Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

Hannah’s 1st Note: These are really easy and fast to make. Almost everyone loves them, including Baby Bethie, and they’re not even chocolate!

3 cups all purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
¾ cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (don’t sift unless it’s got big lumps)
1and ½ cups salted butter, softened (3 sticks, 12 ounces, ¾ pound)
1 can (21 ounces) strawberry pie filling (I used Comstock)***

*** — If you can’t find strawberry pie filling, you can use another berry filling, like raspberry, or blueberry. You can also use pie fillings of larger fruits like peach, apple, or whatever. If you do that, cut the fruit pieces into smaller pieces so that each bar cookie will have some after you cut them. I just put my apple or peach pie filling in the food processor with the steel blade and zoop it up just short of being pureed. I’m not sure about using lemon pie filling. I haven’t tried that yet.

FIRST STEP: Mix the flour and the powdered sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.

Cut in the softened butter with a two knives or a pastry cutter until the resulting mixture resembles bread crumbs or coarse corn meal.

(You can also do this in a food processor using cold butter cut into chunks that you layer between the powdered sugar and flour mixture and process with the steel blade, using an on-and-off pulsing motion.)

Spread HALF of this mixture (approximately 3 cups will be fine) into a greased (or sprayed with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray) 9-inch by 13-inch pan (That’s a standard size rectangular cake pan.)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown.

Remove the pan to a wire rack or a cold burner on the stove, but DON’T TURN OFF THE OVEN!

Let the crust cool for 5 minutes.

SECOND STEP: Spread the pie filling over the top of the crust you just baked.

Sprinkle the crust with the other half of the crust mixture you saved. Try to do this as evenly as possible. Don’t worry about little gaps in the topping. It will spread out and fill in a bit as it bakes.

Gently press the top crust down with the flat blade of a metal spatula.

Bake the cookie bars at 350 degrees F. for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden

Turn off the oven and remove the pan to a wire rack or a cold burner to cool completely.

When the bars are completely cool, cover the pan with foil and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cut them. (Chilling them makes them easier to cut.)

When you’re ready to serve them, cut the Strawberry Shortbread Bar Cookies into brownie-sized pieces, arrange them on a pretty platter, and if you like, sprinkle the top with extra powdered sugar.