Cherry Pie Bars

Cherry Pie Bars 003

We have hit summer, people. It’s freaking hot outside, which means over time I descend into the subway it feels like I’m actually going to hell. The plus side is that eventually it cools off and that’s the perfect time for a  dinner picnic. One of my favorite things to do is pack up our dinner and take it all to Central Park for a picnic. Even if you’re just eating your sad leftovers, it’s so much more fun when the air is cooling off and everyone is outside soaking up the long days.

Cherry Pie Bars 001

The most important part of a dinner picnic, though, is dessert. Sometimes that means grabbing an ice cream cone, but I love bars and cookies that are easily pre-sliced and never require utensils.These cherry pie bars meet all of these requirements. And while cherry pie always brings to mind a gloppy, sweet mess, that is not that case with these beauties. While they are sweet, there is a nice tart zing from the lemon juice. Also, like most things pie based, they make an amazing breakfast the next day {this is always justified by inclusion of fruit…}. Up your next dinner picnic game–you won’t be sorry!

Cherry Pie Bars 002

Cherry Pie Bars
from Joy the Baker

For the Crust:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats

For the Filling:

2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries, thawed, drained, and cut in half

Preheat your oven 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 pan then line with parchment paper. Grease your parchment paper {you can never be too careful}.

First make your crust. Combine your flour, butter, powdered sugar, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Use your fingers, big wooden spoon or pastry blender to mix it up. You want things to come together into a loose/shaggy dough–you should still be able to see some of the butter. Remove half a cup  of the dough and add the rolled oats for your topping.

Keep working with the rest of the dough until it all comes together. It should all be combined nicely without big pieces of butter. Don’t worry if it’s soft–that’s what you want. Use your fingers to press it into the bottom of your well greased pan. You can put some flour on your fingers if it’s all sticky.

Bake the dough for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

While your crust is baking, get together your filling. Using the same bowl you used to mix your crust, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, yogurt, sugar, flour and salt until it is nice and smooth.

Carefully line your baked crust with your cherry halves. If using frozen cherries, be sure not to get too much juice on the crust or else it will be soggy. Once you’ve lined up all your cherries, carefully pour your filling onto the cherries. Finally, sprinkle the top with the oat crumble.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. To check if it’s done, give the pan a light shake and if it is still very wavy in the center, let it bake for a couple more minutes. You want it to be a little jiggly.

Let the baked bars cool to room temperature and then chill for an hour prior to slicing. You can eat these at room temperature or cold. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

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