Time kind of got away from us and before we knew it, it was time for sis and I to get to food blog cooking again. We wanted to make a sweet treat, so we poured through and over and under and along side Bon Appétit Desserts again, that wonderful tome of a dessert mecca. We thought about doing brownies, cheesecake (soon!), cookies – wait, cookies. That’s it! But the problem was we didn’t have at least one ingredient from almost every recipe we looked at (and didn’t feel much like going out to get it), OR the dang recipes called for long hours of chilling things. What the heck, I swear I chose three in a row, looked at the directions and all would take too long with the chilling. So finally we found this one and after making some substitutions, we think the things came out pretty darn well, thank you very much. See the Notes section for what we substituted.
This is your recipe’s supreme alliance of cherry taste. Except, ours turned out to be a double cherry streusel bar. It’s all the kirsch’s (liquor made from cherries) fault, which we couldn’t find at the liquor store. More on that later. But here we have tart and sweet dried cherries, cherry spreadable fruit and a tablespoon of brandy. It’s all very…dark, dark purple, eh?
I confess, sis and I were having a lot of fun using the food processor.
You get to use it a lot with this recipe. Woot! We used it here to incorporate some butter into the flour, making those fine, pea-sized granules, a process that’s done by hand in a lot of recipes. The processor cuts the time down, but you also end up washing more equipment. It’s still fun.
After you’ve added some liquid, and your dough reaches this clumped stage, you’ll reserve some for the topping, then pulse the remainder a few more times to get it to form a ball, basically.
Then you press it all into your foil-lined and greased pan. Pat pat pat. It’s going to seem like there might not be enough for the entire pan, but just press. Press more, and more until you’ve reached each edge and feel it’s relatively the same thin thickness all the way across. Pat pat pat!
You’ll bake it at this point, till it’s a golden brown cookie color.
Meanwhile, while that cookie layer was a-baking, guess what? You’ll already have made the streusel topping! I love streusel topping. Let’s see, we’ve made…four recipes with a streusel topping, including this one, so far at FFA. That just won’t do. We need more streusel topping! This one has flaked coconut, slivered almonds and some of the same dough from the cookie base.
Spread all that lovely pureed cherry concoction on the cookie layer…
…and then crumble the streusel on the cherry layer, making sure to break up the larger pieces as you drop them on. This particular topping clumped a lot more than usual, which is fine, you just want to make sure you have it evenly distributed.
And then you bake it again. Look how it all becomes this toasted golden field of yummy-ness.
It’s in the details. It tastes good, but this is such a pretty dessert, too.
After you use those longer, overlapping foil sides to lift the cookie out of the pan, cut it into bars. Make sure the cookie’s cooled completely before doing so.
Now you can admire your handy work. It’s not a thick bar cookie, but it packs a lot of flavor and texture.
We had a lot of fun with this one (hence, all the pictures). It turned out so well. Don’t you just love it when these things turn out so well? Heck yes, you do!
Thank you once again, Bon Appétit Desserts!
Triple-Cherry Streusel Bars
from, you guessed it, Bon Appétit Desserts
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 52 minutes Level: Intermediate Serves: about 2 dozen, depending on size you cut them
- 1 cup dried Bing (sweet) cherries
- 1 cup tart red cherry preserves
- 1 tablespoon kirsch (clear cherry brandy)
Dough and Streusel
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2⁄3 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 3⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
- 1 3⁄4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 cup (packed) sweetened flaked coconut
- 3⁄4 cup sliced almonds
FILLING: Combine cherries, cherry preserves, and kirsch in processor; blend to a chunky puree.
DO AHEAD: Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to bowl; cover and refrigerate.
DOUGH AND STREUSEL: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 13×9×2-inch metal baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving overhang on both long sides. (Be careful here as you press the foil into the corners of your pan; it’s easy to punch a hole into the foil.) Spray foil with nonstick spray. Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in processor. Add chilled butter cubes, the vanilla, and almond extract. Blend, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and blend, using on/off turns, until mixture comes together in small clumps. Transfer 1 cup (packed) mixture to medium bowl and reserve for streusel.
Blend remaining mixture in processor until large moist clumps form. Gather dough together in large ball. Press dough over bottom of prepared pan; pierce all over with fork. Bake dough until golden, about 22 minutes; cool crust 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Add coconut and almonds to reserved 1 cup dough. Mix with fork, breaking streusel topping into small clumps. (The mixture was a little hard for us to combine with a fork, so we broke out the pastry blender, which worked better for us.)
Spread cherry filling over baked crust. Sprinkle streusel topping over. Bake cookie until cherry filling is bubbling and streusel topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Make sure to check on the cookie before time is up; it might be done enough before then.) Cool cookie in pan on rack. Using foil as aid, lift cookie from pan. Fold down foil sides. Cut cookie into bars.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container.
We did a few substitutions that worked out pretty well.
1. We couldn’t find the kirsch, so we substituted some apply brandy instead….in effect, I suppose, making these Double-Cherry Apple Streusel bars, but it couldn’t be helped. You could also use regular brandy if you have it.
2. We used 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries and 1/2 cup dried tart cherries for the filling. This was because we couldn’t find any tart cherry preserves. We made do with a cherry spreadable fruit instead, and thought adding in the tart dried cherries would suffice.
3. The second time I made these, I didn’t have enough of the cherry spreadable fruit, so I substituted a little strawberry jam. That I snatched from my supply for the kidlet’s sandwiches. And it turned out pretty good! Very good, actually. But now we should call them Double-Cherry Strawberry Streusel Bars. Maybe?
These really do make a great d0-ahead dessert. Four days later – yes, amazingly enough I abstained from gorging on all of them in one day – they still tasted wonderful. I’m amazed at this cookie’s staying power.