Cherry pie cookie barsPublished on July 3, 2017

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Cherry pie cookie bars Photo by: Mark Holleron

Everyone loves the flavour of pie, but not the fuss of making it. These delicious, and not too sweet, cookie bars are the perfect easy-to-bake summertime treat. The spiced shortbread works well as the bottom and top layers, sandwiching the cherry pie filling nicely in the middle.

You can make a panful ahead of time, then cut into bars and freeze so they’ll be ready for your next picnic or backyard cookout.

CHERRY PIE FILLING

  • 4 cups (600 g) pitted and coarsely-chopped fresh or frozen sweet cherries
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp (0.65 mL) pure almond extract 
  • SHORTBREAD CRUST AND TOPPING
  • 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) freshly-grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) salted butter, at room temperature

METHOD

  • Put chopped cherries, honey, lemon juice and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Stir to combine well, then place the pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the filling is bubbling and has thickened and turned glossy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing parchment to drape over the sides of the pan to form ‘handles’ and set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a medium bowl, blend together flour, icing sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut butter into 1 inch (2.5 cm) square pieces, then use a pastry blender or two knives to cut into mixture until it resembles coarse sand. This can also be done in a food processor, pulse mixture for 1-2 minutes.
  • Spread half the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan and press down gently with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes then remove pan from the oven and spread the cherry-pie filling evenly across the baked bottom crust. Top evenly with remaining shortbread mixture and gently press topping down with a spatula so it will adhere to the cherry layer.
  • Bake for an additional 28-30 minutes, until topping is golden brown and cherry filling is bubbling.
  • Remove pan from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To serve, lift out of the pan using parchment paper handles. Cut into bars about 1 x 2 inches and serve at room temperature, topped with a dusting of icing sugar.
  • Store bars in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Paula Roy

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