December 8, 2013

12 Days of Cookies
( + Almond Cherry Bars )

There really aren't any words to fully describe the level of my appreciation for the cherry-almond flavor combination.  

A thesaurusful of superlatives wouldn't do it justice.

So believe me when I tell you that I've made dozens of recipes using this combination.  And this one?  It's the best of them all.

On top of a buttery crust, you're going to layer a thick cherry jam, which is in turn topped by a more-or-less-almond-paste-ish layer that's been fortified with still more cherries.

And then it's topped off with an almond glaze.  Because no one likes leaving the house naked.  All the other cookies would point and stare.

There's no denying that there's a touch of work involved in these bars, but the results are worth so much more than the effort.  And I guarantee that your audience won't ever have seen anything quite like them.  That is, if any survive long enough to reach your audience.

I recommend making two batches.  You know.  For safety's sake.

Almond Cherry Bars
barely adapted from The Good Cookie
by Tish Boyle

Flour   [ 1 1/3 cups ]
Sugar  [ 1/3 cup ]
Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/2 cup, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes ]
Egg Yolk  [ 1 large ]
Water  [ 2 teaspoons, cold ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 3/4 teaspoon ]

Dried Cherries  [ 1/3 cup, chopped ]
Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice  [ 1/3 cup ]
Sugar  [ 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons, divided ]
Sliced Blanched Almonds  [ 1 cup ]
Eggs  [ 2 large ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/2 cup, cut into 8 pieces, softened ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1/2 teaspoon ]
Almond Extract  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Flour  [ 1 tablespoon ]

Cherry Layer:
Cherry Preserves  [ 1 cup ]

Powdered Sugar  [ 1/2 cup ]
Heavy Cream  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Almond Extract  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]

Make Crust:
1.   Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.   Line a 9x9-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil  [ for easy removal ]; grease bottom and 
         sides with Nonstick Cooking Spray.
3.   In a food processor, pulse Flour, Sugar and Salt until mixed.
4.   Scatter Butter over Flour Mixture; process until Mixture resembles coarse sand  [ about 6 seconds ].
5.   In a small bowl, whisk together Egg Yolk, Water, and Vanilla.
6.   While running food processor, pour Egg Mixture through feed tube into processor.
7.   Process just until Dough starts to form large clumps  [ about 15-20 seconds ].
8.   Place Dough in prepared pan.  With fingers, pat and press until it forms an even layer in the bottom of 
         the pan.
9.   Bake until golden  [ about 20 minutes ].
10.   Place on a wire rack and cool completely.  Keep oven at 350 degrees F.

Make Filling:
11.   In a small saucepan, mix Cherries, Orange Juice, and 2 tablespoons of the Sugar.
12.   Bring to a boil over Medium-High heat.
13.   Boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost completely absorbed.
14.   Allow to cool completely.

15.   In the food processor, place Almonds and remaining 2/3 cup of the Sugar.  
16.   Process until Almonds are finely ground  [ about 45 seconds ].
17.   Add Eggs; process until well mixed.
18.   Scatter Butter over Mixture; process until creamy  [ about 30 seconds ].
19.   Add Vanilla, Almond Extract, and Flour; pulse until well mixed.
20.   Add cooled Cherry Mixture; process until blended  [ about 5 seconds ].

Make Bars:
21.   Spread Cherry Preserves over cooled Crust, being careful to leave a 1/4-inch border bare around 
            the edge of the pan.
22.   Pour Almond Filling over Cherry Preserves; spread evenly to edges.
23.   Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean  [ about 30-35 
            minutes ].
24.   Place on wire rack and cool completely.

Glaze Bars:
25.   In a small bowl, whisk together Powdered Sugar, Cream, and Almond Extract until smooth.
26.   Drizzle Glaze over Bars with a spoon or with a makeshift piping bag made of a sandwich bag with one of 
             the corners snipped off.  This may be done before or after cutting bars.

Makes one 9x9-inch pan  [ about 16-25 bars ].

And another magical recipe with dried cherries:
Chocolate Cherry Coconut Macaroons

No comments:

Post a Comment