March 9, 2014

Cherry Pie Crumble Bars

I've noticed a frustrating trend in the media lately. Well, there are a LOT of frustrating trends in the media lately, but let's not open THAT can of worms. There's just one that has been getting under my skin, personally. I watched a lot of chick flicks this week, they are my time-killer of choice while the Geologist is away. Frivolous and silly and light-hearted, they are a great distraction. But I noticed that there is a new recurring character in romantic comedies these days, and I'm not a fan. Have you noticed that lately the beautiful, single, young, successful heroine ALWAYS has to have the "married friend"? The one who is constantly complaining about the obnoxious things she has to do for her kids, her obnoxious balding overweight husband, is crass, rude, and borderline alcoholic? Do ANY of you know Moms like that? I sure as heck don't! I may not drink, but I totally understand that some people like to have a glass of wine or a beer to unwind. I get that. I don't get this fictional mother who hides vodka in sippy cups and cannot deal with her family unless she's had a bottle of wine with breakfast. Sure, we married women can appreciate an attractive man. You all know my crush on a certain ridiculously named British actor! But I certainly don't drool over every shirtless hunk like I'm already bored with my husband. Who is this person?!

Where did this character come from?! I don't know anyone like that! There are already such wars occurring about motherhood: stay-at-home mothers battling working mothers (and vice versa), single women battling mothers (and vice versa), natural birth battling hospital birth (and vice versa)...etc. I think it is fair to say that the role of mothers, and their choices, are being attacked on all sides. These battles make me so sad. If the media is going to portray us as half-drunk harpies, the least we can do is stick together! Moms are awesome. ALL of us. This is a tough job. There are days I fail miserably at it. But every Mom I know, no matter how they feed their kids, what kind of diapers they use, or how clean their house is, is AWESOME. Lets try to appreciate each other. We're all on the same side!!

By the way, does that "character" bug anyone else? Or am I crazy? 

Cherry Pie Crumble Bars (adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen)
Printable Recipe

Crust & Crumble:
3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt, or ¾ tsp table salt
1¼ cups cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 large egg yolks lightly beaten
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp pure almond extract

Cherry Pie Filling:
4-5 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
2 Tb cornstarch
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon pure almond extract

Combine filling ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Lower to a vigorous simmer until the mixture is thickened and reduced by about half
Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool. (In the fridge works great!)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Arrange rack in lower third of the oven. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on each side, creating a sling to remove the bars after cooling. Grease the lining. (I made mine in two 9x9 pans)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter chunks and toss to coat with flour. Cut the butter in, using a pastry cutter, fork, or food processor until the chunks are no larger than small peas. In a small bowl, whisk extracts into beaten egg yolks. Add to the flour mixture and stir together until moistened and dough starts to hold together in crumbles or lumps. (I used my fingers) This is a very crumbly dough that is not going to come together in one ball, so don't worry!

Remove 2 generous cups of the crumb mixture and set aside for the topping. Press remaining dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Spoon the cherry filling evenly over the dough and sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. If your topping is browning too quickly, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before lifting the bars out and cutting them. (They cut best if you refrigerate them for about an hour first)
 Okay people, pay attention. Because if you only make ONE of my recipes from the past year (chronologically, not calendar-ishly), THIS needs to be it!! These cherry bars are INSANE!!!
 You COULD use another kind of cherry, I suppose, but the tangy tartness of tart pie cherries is incredibly delicious. That tartness paired with the sweet, buttery shortbread crumble and crust is a fantabulously mouthwatering combination!!
I was supposed to send these to work with the Geologist. I couldn't do it. I nibbled on them all week.  I could have saved them for summer, they're so very summery, but I had to share now. They're THAT GOOD!! I will be buying bushels of tart cherries from the farmer's markets this summer so I can bake these babies all winter!


  1. Those squares look fabulous April. I was a stay at home mom for over 22 years and I loved every minute of being a stay at home mom. I have never regretted it, not for an instant. My mom had worked when I was a child and as the oldest the burden of responsability for the home and family fell on my shoulders. I could never join any after school activities or clubs because I had to get straight home to care for my brother and sister and do my chores, get supper started, etc. I always said I would never do that to my own children, and I didn't. Sure, they didn't have the latest trainers or video games, or even bicycles. But they had something better. A mom who was always there. Well, "I" think it was better at any rate! xxoo

  2. Hi April! This is Hannah and my husband Eric works with Stephen. This was the dessert that you made for us after we had James in January (btw-everything you made was delicious and much appreciated) and I have been dying to get this recipe. Eric came home from work today raving about some blueberry rolls you made and he told me about your blog so I thought I would check it out. My night was made when I saw this post! I even have frozen cherries that I bought specifically for recreating the crumble bars. I'll be checking for more yummy recipes and I hope to meet you sometime too :)

    1. HI HANNAH!!! How are you?! I had a blast making dinner and dessert for you guys, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The blueberry rolls are actually being posted on Sunday this week, so you can grab that recipe too. Or hey, just send a request through those husbands of ours and I'll send you a batch. Even better... You should come over for dinner, and we can be friends :) My email is up there at the top left, send me a line and we'll set something up!


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