May 21, 2009

cherry crumble bars

On my recent trip to the grocery, I was happy to see that cherries are now in season : ) I've been wanting to make these blackberry crumb bars from an old issue of Everyday Food, instead of the usual basic muffins and banana bread, just to try something different. My trial batch was successful and I have a feeling this will not be the last time I bake these. I've always loved crumbly and buttery streusel toppings for pies and muffins. Apple crisp is also one of those classics that I enjoy making every now and then. These bars combine the goodness of a dense cake and crumbly topping with the chewy texture of the fruit and nuts. Instead of vanilla, I used our favorite fiori di sicilia flavoring, a tastier alternative which works well with almost all baked goods especially muffins and other sweet breads except those with chocolate. Somehow, I find that the lemon accent in the fiori di sicilia clashes with the chocolate flavor. I replaced the blackberries with coarsely chopped cherries in the recipe and added some chopped walnuts.

CHERRY CRUMBLE BARS (adapted from Everyday Food magazine #53)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8" square baking pan or dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter and flour paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

For the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup of flour (I always like to use a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour) and toss with a fork until mixtures comes together and large crumbs form. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of flour (or combination whole wheat and all purpose), 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside. With an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 stick of softened butter, 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add 2 large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour with a fork until just mixed. Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped cherries, chopped walnuts and the chilled crumb topping. Bake 35-40 minutes or until set and done. Cool in pan, cut into bars and enjoy as a snack or dessert.

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