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Door County Cherry Bars


This time of year, Door County, Wisconsin is bursting with their famous cherries. Cherry orchards and farmers markets have every cherry food product imaginable! Cherries aside, my husband and I keep Door County in a special place in our hearts. It's where my husband I first talked seriously about marriage while we were dating. It's where our extended family escaped to shortly after my mother in law was diagnosed with cancer. It's where my son really experienced the beauty of Lake Michigan for the first time. It really is a special place to us. 

Naturally, whenever I get a chance to have Door County cherries, I feel compelled to make something delicious with such great memories in mind. It's therapeutic! So this summer is no exception and I was gifted some Door County cherries from a close friend who recently visited. The result of such a thoughtful gift is this delicious pan of Door County Cherry Bars. 

You don't need Door County cherries to prepare this - your favorite canned cherry pie filling will do. I would even recommend trying this recipe with apple or blueberry pie filling for a variation!

Door County Cherry Bars

Makes 9 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

CRUST INGREDIENTS

·    ½ cup butter, softened

·    ½ cups sugar

·    2 eggs

·    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·    1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional) 

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

·    ½ teaspoon salt


FILLING INGREDIENTS

4 cups pitted sour cherries

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

OR 1 21ounce can of cherry pie filling


GLAZE INGREDIENTS

½ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk 

1/8 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8 inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cherries, cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken OR use canned cherry pie filling. Gather crust ingredients.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 

3. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until well combined.

4. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

5. Dollop 3/4 of the dough mixture into the prepared pan.

6. Using the back of a spoon or offset spatula press the batter down to form the bottom crust. Another option would be to oil your hands to press down.

7. Spread the prepared or canned pie filling over the crust. 

8. Dollop the remaining dough all over the top of the pie filling. Bake the cherry bars in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until set and it begins to turn golden brown around the edges.

9. Cool the cherry bars in the pan until room temperature. Combine the powdered sugar and milk (and extract if using) to make the glaze.

10. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cherry bars. Cut into 9 squares to serve.

 

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