I promise that I have been doing much more in the kitchen than baking up butter and sugar-laced treats. It just seems that the only time I think to snap a picture is when I have a baking project going on. Truthfully though, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like to. We just moved and are still getting settled in. I was out of town for a week visiting family and friends across Connecticut and New York. And next week I am starting grad school so I am busy preparing for that, too.
Our CSA is going strong. This year we opted with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Everything is from Lancaster County, just an hour away. They deliver to our favorite coffee shop in our neighborhood (which also sells take-out beer), so it makes our weekly trip totally worth it. It’s also walking distance, so we don’t have to drive to pick it up! We are pretty inundated with greens right now, but we scored a pound of sweet cherries a few weeks back. I had a potluck for work and Father’s Day was coming up, so I put them to use immediately. Of course, I left some for snacking, too.
Brown Butter Cherry Bars
from Smitten Kitchen
For the crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries (you will not use all of them, so there should be plenty left for a treat later on!)
To make the crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.)
Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.
To make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.
Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.
Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.
Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.
I did not snap a photo of the finished product. They were so delicious I ate them almost immediately. I made a second batch and they came out even better than the first. Having fresh cherries definitely made the difference, but you can use frozen, or any berry of your choice. It would probably be a lot of fun to stud this cake with lots of blueberries or rasberries in the upcoming weeks while they are in season. I don’t know if I’ll make them again- they have a LOT of butter- but I would definitely recommend that you make them. And maybe share them with your friends.