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
- 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.