Cherry Brown Butter Bars

Cherry Brown Butter Bars (1)

Ah, just look at that beautiful bowl of perfectly pitted cherries.  So fresh you can practically feel the need to wash off your apron from having just returned from picking them in a field behind your house (instead of just the need to wash your hands from a recent trip to the market).  I have a deep love for cherries that stems from when I was a kid and my grandmother every holiday would take the time to specially bake a cherry pie because she knew it was my favorite.  I’d sneak pieces of that pie throughout the whole day, much to the chagrin of everyone else because by the time I got done there was nothing left for dessert.  However, the way my grandmother would make cherry pie is by picking up one of those cans of cherry pie fillings, you know?  Not by pitting fresh ones or even using the frozen.  Long story short, I, my entire life, never fully grasped how frustrating and MESSY pitting cherries can be.  I even bought one of those cherry pitters that are literally only made for pitting cherries, and I hate having one-use-items in my kitchen.  And, even with the pitter, you stil have a gigantic mess!!  Just look at this mess:

Cherry Brown Butter Bars (15)

 That, all of that, is from pitting 12 ounces of cherries.  Now I get why she used the cherry pie filling in a can; it means you don’t have to switch from tired arm to tired arm trying to scrub the stains from the countertops, bowls, cabinets, walls (yes walls) and fingers.

Cherry Brown Butter Bars (20)

All of that being said, my dislike for the mess that inevitably follows using fresh cherries for your baking desires, it’s totally worth every single pink stain.  You just can’t beat the taste of a freshly pitted cherry: sweet, a little tangy, juicy and firm all at the same time just bursting inside your mouth as you sink your teeth into its tender flesh.  That’s the flavor you’re going for here with these bars, that and the wonderful, almost shortbread, nutty flavor of the buttery crust.

Cherry Brown Butter Bars (30)

It just crosses the line of making all of that tiring scrubbing worth the trouble.

Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

Crust
98 g (7 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, Melted
67 g (1/3 Cup) Sugar
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
136 g (1 Cup + Tbsp) All-Purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt

Filling
100 g (1/2 Cup) Sugar
2 Large Eggs
Pinch of Salt
32 g (1/4 Cup) All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
112 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 Lb sweet cherries, or about 12 oz when pitted (you can substitute any fruit you desire here)

Prep your Pan: 
Preheat oven to 375°F.  Create a makeshift tart pan by cutting two 12 x 8 inch lengths of parchment paper, then crisscrossing them in the bottom of a square baking pan.

Make the Crust:
Using a rubber spatula, mix the melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Add flour and salt until combined then transfer the dough to the “tart” pan, using your fingertips to push the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan, being careful to not let it bunch around the edges.  Pop the pan in the oven and bake for about 18 minutes, or until the crust has a light golden color and has puffed a little.  Remove from the oven but leave the oven on and let the crust cool on the counter while you make the filling.

Make the filling:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium brown heat until it has darken in color and has a delightful nutty smell, about 6 minutes.  Be careful not to let it burn (like I did) or the flavor won’t be just right.  Immediately move to a glass dish to cool.  Whisk sugar, vanilla, eggs and salt in a medium bowl then add flour, whisking until smooth.  Gradually whisk in the browned butter until well blended.

Combine the Two:
Arrange the pitted cherries, or whatever fruit you ended up choosing, on top of the cooled crust.  Pour the sugar mixture evenly over the berries, being careful not to nudge them out of place.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is puffed and golden and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool completely before using the parchment to remove the bars from the pan and, using a sharp knife, cutting them into squares.
Cherry Brown Butter Bars (45)

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