It’s often said that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, here’s a new one for you: when the grocery store offers you cherries at $1.99/lb, buy a LOT of cherries. If you are part of my family, this means roughly 7 lbs of cherries. We’re in cherry heaven over here. Between Rainier cherries (my favorites) to the more common Bing variety, we’ve been eating cherries pretty much nonstop for the past few weeks.
Which means that, ultimately, one needs to come up with a way to use some of these cherries–especially when one has plans for a picnic on Roosevelt Island. Having never been much of a jam/preserve person, I quickly crossed that possibility off my list. What I really wanted to make was a pie. Pies, however, are difficult to transport, especially on the unforgiving and overcrowded D.C. Metro. Solution? Pie bars! I’ve been eying this recipe for a couple of weeks and, with my sudden bounty of cherries, the time was right to take a crack at this recipe.
The bars come together pretty quickly. I’m sure they’d come together even more quickly if you’ve been blessed with a cherry pitter. I, however, am not so fortunate (yay law student budget!). It’s pretty simple to halve the cherries and gently squeeze out the pit, but it is time-consuming, so leave yourself ample time to do that. The result, however, is well worth the cherry-stained fingers (and shirts and aprons). You get incredibly juicy cherries, sandwiched between two layers of flaky shortbread with just a hint of cinnamon and (in my version) of Chambord. Drooling yet? I thought so.
So here’s to cherry season and to picnics! Now go forth and make some pie. Happy eating!
Cherry Pie Crumble Bars
Adapted from the Crepes of Wrath
While the original recipe calls for orange juice, I didn’t have any. Solution? Liquor! Chambord to be exact. The berry liquor added a nice depth to the cherry filling. And to my cocktail. May it never be said that I am a boring baker.
- 2 lbs Bing cherries, pitted and halved
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup + ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ tablespoons Chambord
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, combine your flour, granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and salt.
- Using a pastry blender or your fingers, quickly work in the unsalted butter until the flour mixture is completely coated and only pea-sized pieces of butter remain. Set aside 1 cup of this crumb mixture.
- Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper.
- Press half of the crumb mixture into the pan, making an even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden.
- While the bottom crust bakes, mix together the cherries, the cup of crumb mixture that you set aside, the cinnamon, and the Chambord.
- Allow the bottom crust to cool slightly, then top with the cherry-crumb mixture.
- Then, add the remaining crumb mixture. Pat down gently to make sure that the cherries are coated and that everything is just slightly pressed together.
- Bake for an additional 40 minutes until everything is set and golden.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Makes 24 bars.