Cherry Crumb Bars

I am sure nobody believes me anymore when I say I hate baking.  It seems I keep on having at least one baking post a week, seriously people..I don’t like it!  Here was my dilemma, I saw some gorgeous Rainier Cherries and I had to have them.  My usual routine when I pick up cherries is I fork out all this money for a nice organic bag of rainier or bing cherries, then I decide it’s way too hard to eat something with a pit as a snack at work, especially in food service.  Apparently people in food service frown upon sticking your fingers in your mouth to retrieve a pit or spitting them out, go figure?  The only choice in the matter here was to eat them at home or bake with them.  Of course being the over achiever I am, I did not settle on one bag of cherries, but two.  So what’s a girl to do with 4 lbs of cherries?!

The first plan was to just make cobbler.  Easy enough, not too much flour interaction – I can deal with that.  Then I decided I no longer wanted to do cobbler, and pie was out of the question (not a pie fan).  I was craving that buttery crust of a cookie bar.  I looked up some recipes on fruit bars and this is the hybrid I came up with.  It was an on again off again rainy day outside so I also was able to turn this into a cooking project for my 4 year old niece Kaileigh.

Cherry Crumb Bars Recipe

Bottom Crust

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (you can cut back, I just like salt)
  • 2 sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • About 1/4 cup milk, add table spoons at a time just until a dough is formed
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Filling

  • 2 lb bag of Bing Cherries, pitted
  • 2 lb bag of Rainier Cherries, pitted (I had a bit of a bad batch, I probably only used 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Crumb Topping

  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (nobody said this thing was healthy)
  • 2 eggs
  • enough milk to bind it together
  • Garnish – Slivered almonds, optional

First, make the filling so it has enough time to gel up and cool off.  I pitted all the cherries while the niece was taking a nap, I barely had the patience to pit all of those, there’s no way a 4 year old would keep interested in pitting 4 lbs of cherries.  I do use a cherry pitter I found for only about 5 bucks at target, if you don’t have one – then I wish  you luck.  In a big high sided sauce pan, melt half a stick of butter, add all the cherries, white sugar, brown sugar, almond extract and let simmer until it thickens, this can take about 20-30 minutes – just leave it alone you don’t have to constantly watch it.  I had corn starch handy in case it didn’t thicken, but I guess all it takes is patience – it really works!  Set aside to cool.

Next make the bottom crust.  Set the oven to 350º.  Combine flour, sugar, cold butter, and salt.  Mix together just as you would a pie dough.  Cut the butter with a fork or smash very well between your fingers until it’s course balls of dough.  Add almond extract and milk until a soft dough forms.  It should still sort of crumble if you smash it in your hands, it’s not meant to be a rollable dough.  Next, line a pan in parchment.  I did make this to be a big recipe so that I could fit in in a high sided cookie sheet.  Press the dough evenly across the pan.  Bake at 350º for about 10-12 minutes, just to start the cooking process.  If your butter has begun to melt while pressing into the pan, chill it before baking so it comes together and the butter doesn’t puddle.

While the bottom crust is baking, begin making the crumb topping.  Combine just as you did the bottom crust, only this time it needs to be more crumbly than the bottom crust was.  It’s nearly identical in ingredients (aside from the egg), just different amounts.  I did add some brown sugar just because I wanted a nice crunchy sugary topping.  Once the bottom crust is done, add the cherries to the top, and crumble the crumb topping evenly across the top.  Bake at 350º for about 25 minutes, until the top crumb coating is cooked through.  Top with a garnish of your choice, I did slivered almonds and powdered sugar.

This became Monday nights dinner.

And I am nauseous.