I’ve been holding out on you. Remember last week when I told you all the different ways you can use this easy homemade cherry pie filling? I left out the best one of all: Cherry Bars.
Two soft, buttery layers wrapped around a sweet inner stripe of cherry pie filling, with crunchy almonds and almond glaze on top, these cherry bars have a 100% success rate. The first batch went to Ben’s office and vanished by 9 a.m. The second, we devoured Saturday night, around a campfire with family and friends at Ben’s parents’. Did you see me making them on Snapchat? (I’m wellplated, if you’d like to add me as a friend!)
What you (and Ben’s family) didn’t see on Snapchat: the two cherry bars I secretly stashed in our refrigerator before we left for the party. Yes, I am a cherry bar hoarder. Can you blame me? Just look at that drippy glaze! The crunchy almonds! The juicy cherry filling!
The base and topping of these cherry bars is a cross between a buttery shortbread cookie, a fluffy, moist pound cake, and an oatmeal crumble. It’s the best of shortcake, shortbread, and cherry pie all rolled into one. The batter comes together in a single bowl and takes less than 10 minutes to prep.
The cherry bar batter also does double duty. Part serves the bottom layer of the cherry bars, then the remaining is mixed with sliced almonds and sprinkled over the top. That’s two layers of buttery deliciousness for the work of one.
The inner layer of these cherry bars is my naturally sweetened homemade cherry pie filling. One batch yields the perfect amount. You’ll taste the cherries in every bite, but they won’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the cookie layers or the pleasing crunch of the almonds.
These cherry bars are sturdy enough to pick up with your fingers, but light and moist enough to melt right on your tongue. They reminded me of a cherry shortcake, in an easier, more portable form.
As you might suspect, the cherry bars taste dreamy served warm with vanilla ice cream, but because the almond glaze is already sweet, I enjoyed them even more without it. If you like, you can also omit the glaze completely and serve the cherry bars with plain or vanilla yogurt for a special summer breakfast. Since they are made with whole wheat pastry flour and the filling is naturally sweetened with honey, on Sunday morning, I felt justified doing just that with my secret stash!
Tools I used to make this recipe:
- Cherry pitter (used to make the original bath of filling)
- 8×8-inch baking pan
- Off-set spatula (the BEST for spreading batter evenly, especially layered desserts like this one)
A cross between a pie bar and a crumb bar, these cherry bars combine layers of buttery shortbread, sweet cherry filling, crumb topping, and an almond glaze.
Yield: 16 bars
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (plus cooling time)
For the Cherry Bars:
- 1 batch homemade cherry pie filling
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute all purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
For the Glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper so that you have some over hanging two sides, then lightly grease again. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the baking powder and salt over the top than mix to combine. Reduce the mixer speed to low and, with the mixer running, slowly add in the flour, mixing just until it disappears. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed to make sure the ingredients are evenly blended. The dough will be very moist and sticky.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough for the topping, then scrape the remaining dough into the bottom of the prepared dish. With a knife, the back of a spoon, or an offset spatula, spread the dough into an even layer, smoothing it all the way into the corners. The layer will seem thin, but it will rise and thicken as it bakes. Spoon the cooled pie filling over the top, spreading it into an even layer. Mix the sliced almonds into the reserved dough, then drop it by small spoonfuls over the top. Some of the cherry pie filling will be showing through.
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until lightly golden on top and set. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. To remove the bars from the pan, use a dull knife to loosen the sides, then gently lift them out using the overhanging parchment paper like handles.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle over the bars, slice, and serve.
Store leftover cherry bars in the refrigerator for up to four days or individually wrap freeze for up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Serving Size: 1 bar (without glaze)
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 223
- Total Fat: 8g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Cholesterol: 39mg
- Sodium: 49mg
- Carbohydrates: 11g
- Fiber: 3g
- Sugar: 23g
- Protein: 3g
If you like this recipe for Cherry Bars, check out these other tasty dessert bar treats: