Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cherry Pie Bars

Pie may be more celebrated, but bars are handheld! Try these Cherry Pie Bars at your next potluck and watch them disappear. In a bar recipe like this, however, the thicker crust plays a big part in the overall flavor, so make sure to use high quality flour. I've long preferred certified-organic Bob's Red Mill.

Cherry Pie Bars
by Kate
Adapted from Joy the Baker

For the crust:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups quality flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup oats, old-fashioned, not quick-cook

For the "pie" filling:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup quality flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups cherries (either fresh, pitted and halved; or if frozen, thawed, drained and halved)

Preheat the oven to 350°F with its rack in the top third. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper (one strip each direction of the pan, overlapping). Then grease the parchment paper.

Start with the crust. Combine the butter, powdered sugar, flour, salt and zest in a medium to large bowl. Use a pastry cutter, a big fork or your fingers to work the ingredients into a shaggy dough. Don't worry if it's not super smooth or incorporated.

Take 1/2 cup of the dough, put it in a separate smaller bowl and add the oats, stirring to combine and create a crumble. Set that bowl aside for later.

Back to the rest of the dough, stir again until it's relatively smooth and soft, and can form a ball. Then break that ball into smaller chunks, which you'll press into the bottom of your greased pan. Use extra flour if it's sticky, and press until it's even.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is browned around its edges. Meanwhile, start the filling.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, sour cream and salt together until incorporated in a medium bowl (even the same bowl, if you'd like).

Place the cherries on the baked crust. If using frozen cherries, make sure they're well-drained before adding. Pour the filling over the cherries, then sprinkle with the reserved oat crumble.

Bake the bars for about 30 minutes or until set. A little jiggle in the center is OK, but the bars should be relatively set. Cool the pan to room temperature and then chill for at least 60 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled or at room temp -- and add ice cream for an a la mode version, if you're feeling fancy.

The bars keep well in the fridge for up to four days.