Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry Pie Bars

One of my fondest childhood memories is getting up really early on the first day of a camping trip. We would pile into the car with all our gear, with the dog laying on top of us, and we would get to eat bear claws and Hostess fruit pies for breakfast on the way. Dad always called dibs on the cherry pies. I liked the lemon ones best, though anything that sweet makes for an amazing breakfast for any kid.

Dad's favorite has always been cherry pie. I try to make him cherry desserts on occasion, just to ensure I remain the favorite child. I had promised him cherry pie for Father's Day, but plans changed slightly. Ended up making it for July 4th instead.

I was really planning on a pie, but the cherry filling I started out with was too watery for pie. I could not get it to thicken with corn starch, and I didn't have tapioca on hand. (I've since learned that this is a very common problem with cherries.) So, I threw in some oats to soak up the excess juice, and made cherry pie bars instead. Dad seemed very pleased.

Cherry Pie Bars
(Print Recipe)

4 cups pitted Rainier cherries
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp amaretto
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup shortening or softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup softened butter
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt

In a saucepan, cook cherries, sugar, corn starch, amaretto, and lemon juice on medium heat until bubbling. Put in freezer to cool, or store in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 300° F. Stir together the sugar, flour, and salt for the crust in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Mix in pecans. Press the crust into the bottom on a 13"x9" pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until top starts to get bubbles and turn golden brown around the edges.

While crust is baking, prepare the topping. Use a fork to mix butter, oats, pecans, brown sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl, or pulse in a food processor until just combined. 

Pull cooled cherry filling out of the freezer. Stir in the egg, oats, and pecans.

Pour filling over the hot crust. Crumble brown sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until filling is set and topping starts to darken.

Best served warm and fresh, but leftovers will keep in refrigerator for a week.

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