Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

The dark sweet cherries this week were everywhere in the stores and just begging me to bring some home. Mind you, I had no idea what I wanted to make with them; the possibilities of what to bake were swarming around in my little brain for days before I was prompted to finally dig them out of the fridge. I was in the mood for nothing too fussy, (decorating wise) so a cake was out as I just wanted to whip something together for a friendly potluck get together with my friends and neighbors. It bears repeating the the freshest ingredients and a simple bake can create something spectacular. It’s all about the wonderful fresh sweet cherries. It does take some time to pit and slice the cherries; but with a couple bowls on the table while watching TV; and a cloth to wipe my hands frequently, (it did look like a bit of a horror show with my red stained hands) they were pitted in no time. These were a huge hit and will definitely be a yearly favorite. The Husband who rarely comments on my sweets said he thought this one was a “keeper”.

Cherry Filling

5 Cups (615 gm) fresh dark sweet cherries

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

1 Cup sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/2 Cup all purpose flour

Prepare the cherries: Wash, remove stems and pit the cherries. Then cut the cherries in half and place in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and extracts. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the bowl and mix gently to coat the cherries. Set aside while you prepare the crust; which is also the topping.

Crumb base and topping

3 Cups all purpose flour

1 Cup + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x13 inch pan; spray with non-stick spray and then line with a parchment sling, so you have an overhang on the long sides of the baking pan. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the cold cubed butter and with a pastry blender combine the ingredients until the mixture is coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and extracts with a fork to combine. Add into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Divide the mixture in half. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Pour the cherry filling over the mixture; spread gently so it is even. Toss the remaining mixture of crumbs over the filling; leaving some larger clumps/crumbs and smaller crumbs so you have a variety of sized crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar on top of the crumbs. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake at 375 F for about 50-55 mins. Check the bake around the 40 min. mark and if necessary cover the pan with tinfoil if the crumbs are getting too dark. Bake until the top is golden brown and the mixture just starts to bubble up around the sides of the pan. Remove and allow to cool over a wire rack.

When the bars are cool, lift out the parchment sling and cut into desired size. If you want cleaner less crumbly cut; you can chill the bars in the fridge before cutting.



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