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Featuring a sweet-tart cherry pie filling and a buttery, crumbly brown sugar streusel, there’s so much to love about these crumb-topped cherry pie bars. You’ll use frozen sour cherries in the filling, which comes together quickly on the stove. The crust and crumble topping are made from the same 1-bowl mixture. (There’s no messing with pie crust today!) A drizzle of almond icing is the perfect flavor-enhancing finishing touch.

cherry pie bars with crumb topping and white icing on top on brown parchment paper.

Today we’re giving our standard round pie dish a rest and making pie bars. While I generally don’t mind putting in the time and effort to make a pie from scratch (it’s a labor of love!), pie bar recipes are definitely quicker and easier. And sometimes—OK

Description

This is cherry pie without the hassle of making a homemade pie crust! You’ll use frozen (or fresh) sour cherries in the filling, which comes together quickly on the stove. The crust and crumble topping are made from the same 1-bowl mixture. A drizzle of almond icing is the perfect flavor-enhancing finishing touch. Cool completely before icing and cutting.


Ingredients

Crust + Topping

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 1 cup (85g) + 2 Tablespoons (11g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons (142g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cherry Filling

  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (11g) cornstarch
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (525g) frozen sour cherries (do not thaw)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Almond Icing (Optional)

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan (I love this one and this one) with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan. Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Whisk the flour, 1 cup (85g) oats, brown sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and vanilla, and stir until the mixture resembles moist crumbly sand and no dry spots remain. You will have a little more than 3 cups of crust mixture, or about 520g. Press 2/3 of the mixture (about 2 cups/345g—doesn’t have to be exact) into the prepared baking pan. Press it into the pan (with your hands, a large spoon or spatula, or the bottom of a measuring cup) to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven to slightly cool.
  3. Make the filling: Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside, within reach of the stove. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries begin to release their juices—about 4 to 6 minutes. While the cherries continue to cook, carefully remove a couple of spoonfuls of the juice from the saucepan and add to the bowl of cornstarch. Using a fork, mix the cornstarch and cherry juice together until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir this mixture into the filling, then bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the filling has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract.
  4. Pour/spread the filling over the warm crust. Stir 2 Tablespoons oats into the remaining crumble mixture, then sprinkle it all over the filling, and lightly press it down with the back of a large spoon or flat spatula.
  5. Bake for about 40–50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out *mostly* clean (with a few jammy cherry specks!). Mine take about 45 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. After about 1 hour, you can place the whole pan in the refrigerator to help speed things up.
  7. Make the optional icing: Whisk the icing ingredients together. Add more milk to thin out, if desired. Drizzle over cooled bars.
  8. Lift the bars out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper lining and place the whole thing on a cutting board. Slice squares with a sharp knife and, for neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut.
  9. Cover and store leftover cherry pie bars (with or without icing) at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can refrigerate the cooled bars before cutting into squares, see step 6. Baked and cooled bars freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): 9-Inch Square Baking Pan or this 9-Inch Square Baking Pan | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Citrus Zester | Citrus Juicer | Cooling Rack
  3. Can I use canned/jarred cherries? No, I do not recommend canned cherries in this recipe. Canned cherries typically have other ingredients added. And if you can find a can/jar that’s just pure cherries in liquid, they’re already quite soft and will cook into mush. I do not recommend them here.
  4. Can I use dark sweet cherries instead of sour? Yes, we tested this and it works wonderfully with 2 changes: Reduce the sugar in the filling to 1/3 cup (67g) and add another 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Still, if I had to choose, I would use sour cherries here.
  5. Can I bake this in a 9×13-inch pan? You can, but I have had better results baking a smaller batch, as written, in the 9-inch square pan. If you want to make a larger batch, double each ingredient and bake in a 9×13-inch pan. Increase crust pre-bake time to 18 minutes. Increase the bake time after adding the filling & crumble topping to 1 hour, or until filling is bubbling.
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By uvu44

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