Crunchy oatmeal cookie bars topped with strawberry filling, sweetened cream cheese, and oatmeal crumble.
Cookie + Crumble:
- 2 C rolled oats
- 2 C AP flour
- 1 1/2 C brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 C salted butter, melted
- 4 C strawberries, sliced thin
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp agar agar powder
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 C powdered sugar
- 2 tsp milk
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF and prepare an 8×8″ baking dish by either lining it with parchment paper, or greasing it with baking spray or a light coat of oil.
- Begin with the cookie: Add the rolled oats, flour, baking powder and coriander to a large mixing bowl. Stir well. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and melted butter.
- Once the butter and brown sugar are blended, add the mixture to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla extract. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir well. You want to distribute the butter mixture into the dry ingredients as much as you can. Look for chunks of various sizes, as well as some oats still loose. Try to incorporate as much loose flour as you can.
- Scoop a little less than 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it around the bottom evenly. Use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to really pack it in, pressing down and using as much force as you can. You want it to be tight so it doesn’t break apart when cutting and eating later.
- Bake the cookie layer in your oven on the middle rack for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool.
- Start on your strawberry filling: add the sliced berries – reserve some slices for topping later – along with the lemon juice and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Sprinkle in your agar agar powder and whisk it in well. Work quickly so the powder doesn’t set in one place.
- Set the strawberry mixture aside to cool for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Make the cream filling by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk in a small bowl. Whisk until most of the lumps are gone. You can whisk until it’s completely smooth if you want but it’s not necessary.
- Spoon half of the mixture over the cookie layer and spread it around in an even layer.
- Check to see if the strawberry filling has cooled. It can be warm, but it shouldn’t be so hot it’s uncomfortable to touch. When it’s ready, pour the strawberry filling over the top and spread it around evenly as well, all the way to the edges.
- Use a spoon to add dollops of the remaining cream filling around the top of the strawberry layer. Once you’ve added it all use a butter knife to swirl it together. Make sure not to push the knife in too far: don’t disturb the cookie layer at the bottom.
- Sprinkle the remaining cookie mixture over the entire top, from edge to edge. You can leave some of the berries and cream mixture showing if you like.
- Arrange your strawberry slices over the top of the crumble in whatever pattern you’d like.
- Finish with a light sprinkle of extra crumble if you have any, then place the pan back into the oven for 40-50 minutes. It’s ready with the jam is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown. Trust your nose; don’t let it burn.
- Let it cool completely – it takes HOURS but it’s necessary. Once it’s cooled, remove the cookie from the pan, then slice it into squares. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 days.
- Gelatin can be substituted for agar agar powder.
- A 9×13″ baking dish is the perfect size for doubling this recipe.
- You can prepare the strawberry filling in advance and let it cool completely. I don’t do this because I don’t want the filling to set in the shape of the bowl, causing me to have to stir TF out of it to get it back into a pourable/smoothable state.