Food: Recipe – Cherry Almond Bars
When it’s too early for rhubarb and too late for fruitcake, pick this cherry almond treat to feed your appetite for something fresh, fruity and dessert-y
By Louise Crosby
I wanted to do a blog on rhubarb this week to signal the arrival of spring, but alas, there was no rhubarb to be found. Spring is dragging its heels in these parts; warm weather is that elusive thing that could arrive next week, or the week after. We are waiting for so many things: crab apple blossoms, fiddleheads, green grass. We’re right on the verge but not quite there.
Badly in need of something fresh and bright and new to eat, I found this recipe for cherry almond squares, ran up the street to our neighbourhood grocery to buy a bag of frozen cherries, and got to work. Now that’s coming to terms with reality.
There’s nothing wrong with frozen cherries, in fact they work perfectly in these rich, crumbly squares. Combined in a pot with some sugar and lemon, they cook down into a thick compote that is spread between an almond-shortbread crust and topping. Baked in the oven, it all turns golden and bubbly, the tart cherry filling soaking into its sweeter surroundings. All very pretty and spring-like and uplifting.
This recipe is straight from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. It will lift you out of winter and plop you straight down into spring.
Cherry Almond Bars
3 cups (18 ounces) cherries, pitted and halved if small or quartered if large
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Crust and Topping
2¼ cups (11¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup packed (3¾ ounces) brown sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) sliced almonds
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
To make the fruit filling, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for 1 minute to thicken.
To make the crust and topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, almonds, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and process until crumbly. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse just until the mixture comes together.
Press two-thirds of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, then pour in the cherry filling. Press clumps of the remaining crumb mixture over the cherry filling.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edge. Cool for 1 hour before cutting into bars.
Storage: Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the bars will keep for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen.
THE EX-PRESS, April 27, 2016