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Cherry Almond Bars

I wait in nervous anticipation for cherry season to arrive every year.  Sweet, deep, red cherries that are like little bursts of joy on my tongue.  Bright red, tart cherries that perfume the pies and cobblers of mid-summer.  The red,  yellow and orange tie-dyed cherries that pop up in the tree outside of my mom's place, causing my sister and I to balance precariously on  each others backs or knees...limbs stretched...bodies teetering...are always the first indication that cherry season is upon us!  There's nothing like a good cherry pit spitting contest, either.  Watermelon seeds...pshaw...cherry pits can sail much farther!  Although I usually reserve sour cherries for baking and just revel in the glory of the sweet ones as-is...I decided to try a dessert using a sweet variety this time...
Cherry Almond Bars
slightly adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson
serves 12

softened butter for greasing the pan

Fruit Filling
3 c. (18 oz) cherries, pitted & halved
1/2 c. (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
zest & juice of 1 lemon  seriously, I highly recommend just using half a lemon...this much seemed to overpower the cherry flavor!!

Crust and Topping
1 1/4 c. unbleached AP flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. slivered almonds
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 egg
1 tsp. pure almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter an 8"-square pan. 

For the filling, combine all filling ingredients in a saucepan over med-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for 1 minute to thicken. 

For crust, combine flours, brown sugar, almonds, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Add butter and process until crumbly.  Add the egg and almond extract and pulse until mixture just comes together.  Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Pour in cherry filling.  Press clumps of the remaining crumb mixture over the cherry filling. 

Bake in middle of oven for 30-35 minutes, or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edge.  Cool for 1 hour before cutting into bars.  Store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 4 days.

Although I'm a cherry freak, I was totally ga-ga over the "crust" portion of this dessert cuz I'm also an almond freak!?.  It was like a buttery-addicting shortbread-sandy!!!  So. Darn. Good.  I bet it'd be good using a blueberry/orange combo, too.

This post is linked to:
BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient): Flour hosted by Veronica at Recipe Rhapsody this week
The Cherry event was started by Priya...


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