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Friday, March 13, 2015

Cherry Squares



Crisps, bars or squares, not matter what you call them, anything with a fruit in a oatmeal type crust is the best desert. I love the crunchy topping and the sweet fruit filling. These bars are so easy to make and you could substitute any fruit you would prefer in this recipe. Nothing fancy but oh so good. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream right from the oven or at room temperature. It is good no matter how you serve it. My favorite desert by far, well after chocolate!

Filling

Two 14.5-ounce cans pitted sour cherries (2 1/2 to 3 cups
 drained, juice reserved, 20 ounces); or 6 cups (24 ounces) frozen pitted sour   cherries, thawed, drained, juice reserved

2/3 cup (5 3/8 ounces) reserved cherry juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Crust
1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 ounces) traditional rolled oats

1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces)  Unbleached All-Purpose
  Flour or Organic White Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar, light or dark, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 9" pan.

To make the filling: Measure out 2/3 cup of the reserved cherry juice. In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, juice, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk the sugar with the cornstarch, and stir into the cherries. Simmer the mixture, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes (if you're using canned cherries); or for 20 minutes (if you're using thawed frozen). It'll thicken and look like canned cherry pie filling (but taste a WHOLE lot better). Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and almond extracts, and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the crust.

To make the crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the oats or barley, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the melted butter, stirring till everything is well combined.

To assemble the bars: Press 2 1/2 cups (about 14 ounces) of the crust mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing it out to completely cover the bottom of the pan, with no gaps showing. Top the crust with the filling. Add the almonds to the remaining crust mixture, and sprinkle it over the filling.

Bake the squares for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove the squares from the oven, and allow them to cool before cutting into 2" squares. Yield: 16 squares.

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