Cherry almond shortbread pie bars

These small batch pie bars are a great way to get the pie experience with a less fussy crust. Adapted from a banger Ina Garten recipe where the crust makes both the base and the crumble-like topping. You’ll eat the whole pan in 3 days. Or maybe that was just me.

Adapted from: Ina Garten
photo of completed recipe: These small batch pie bars are a great way to get the pie experience with a less fussy crust. Adapted from a banger Ina Garten recipe where the crust makes…
  • You'll be eating in: 2 hours, including time to chill the dough.

  • Active time: 25 minutes

  • Yield: 1 8x8 inch pan of bars

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1

    cup (2 sticks / 230 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/3

    cup (66 grams) white sugar

  • 1/4

    cup (50 grams) brown sugar

  • 1

    teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4

    teaspoon almond extract (optional)

  • 2

    cups (284 grams) all purpose flour

  • 3/4

    teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

For the cherry filling:

  • 1

    pound cherries (fresh or frozen)

  • sugar to taste, start with 2 tablespoons (see notes)

  • 1

    tablespoon corn starch

  • 1

    teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4

    teaspoon almond extract

  • pinch salt

For the topping:

  • 1/4

    cup chopped, slivered, or sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat

    Preheat the oven to 375°

  2. Make the shortbread

    Cream together the softened butter and sugars with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in extracts and mix to combine. Add in flour and salt and mix on low speed to prevent flying flour. You can sift the flour but I don't bother for denser desserts like this. Increase speed to medium and mix until flour is fully incorporated.

  3. Bake the base

    Set aside 1/3 of the crust dough in the refigerator. Pack the other 2/3 of the dough into an 8x8inch square pan and press into the bottom and slightly up the sides to create a bit of a rim like you would in a pie pan (this prevents the pie filling from sticking/burning at the edges). Refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to one day. Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes until the base is golden brown.

  4. Make the filling

    Combine pitted cherries, sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Cook together over medium heat (it needs to bubble to activate the starch) until cherries are softened and jammy. Adjust sugar to taste. Add in almond extract (start with 1/4 teaspoon) to taste. Let cool before assembling.

  5. Bake with filling

    Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Spread the filling over the base. Mix the almonds with the remaining crust and drop pieces of the crust across the top of the filling (it won't completely cover the filling). Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until the top crust is browned. Cool in the pan, slice, and enjoy!

    Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Spread the filling over the base. Mix the almonds with the remaining crust and drop pieces of the crust across the top of the filling (it won't completely cover the filling). Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until the top crust is browned. Cool in the pan, slice, and enjoy!

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Notes

The amount of sugar depends on your cherries: tart cherries will need more and sweet cherries will need less. Pie filling is very forgiving so you don't need to be exact. Use canned pie filling for an even easier dessert.

I don't bother toasting the nuts since they get roasted in the oven.

Variations

Any fruit-pie filling would work great here. Ina's original recipe used apples. I can't wait to try it with peaches, apricots or plums.

Substitutions

Pecans, walnuts, or pistachios would all be great in place of almonds.

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