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Strawberry shortcake bars

Strawberry shortcake bars
Strawberry shortcake bars
Photo by Kim Klietz

Strawberry shortcake bars

Strawberry shortcake is one of the quintessential summer desserts. I can remember my mom making strawberry shortcake on a hot summer night with angel food cook and delicious macerated strawberries all topped with a generous dollop of Cool Whip. That dessert always reminds me of my childhood.

I saw this recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Bars on the Pillsbury website a few months ago and made sure to bookmark it to try. I was waiting for the right occasion to test it out, when I finally had an opportunity. My nephew celebrated his first birthday a week ago, and I decided these bars would be the perfect thing for me to bring to the party.

The bars are pretty easy to make, but make sure you make them a night in advance so they have time to set up in the refrigerator. The first step is to make your store-bought sugar cookies, easy enough. After the cookies cool, simply crush them with a rolling pin or in a food processor. In the recipe, the crust only calls for cookie crumbs that you press into the bottom of the pan. My crust never quite came together and seemed too dry, so I would recommend adding some liquid in the form of melted butter.

The filling is easy to make by combing the softened cream cheese, sugar, Cool Whip and gelatin. Just add in some sliced strawberries and top with the remaining cookie crumbs!

I loved the flavor of these bars and the new twist to an old classic. They tasted almost like cheese cake because of the cream cheese, but were much lighter with the addition of the Cool Whip.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Bars (recipe from Pillsbury)
1 package refrigerated sugar cookies
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon)
4 oz frozen (thawed) whipped topping (half 8-oz container)
1 3/4 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.

Remove cookies from package; place cookies on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack; cool completely. (To speed up process, refrigerate cookies about 1 hour.)

Meanwhile, line 11x7-inch pan with cooking parchment paper.

Once cookies are cool, place in food processor. Cover; pulse a few times until all cookies are crumbled. Reserve 1 cup of the cookie crumbs. Pour remaining cookie crumbs into pan; press in bottom of pan to form crust.

In mixer bowl with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add gelatin; stir to combine.

With rubber spatula, fold whipped topping and 1 cup of the chopped strawberries into cream cheese mixture. Spread over cookie crust. Top with remaining chopped strawberries.

Sprinkle reserved 1 cup cookie crumbs evenly over dessert; gently press with fingers. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

To serve, cut into 5 rows by 3 rows to make 15 bars, or into 6 rows by 3 rows to make 18 bars.

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