You’ve probably noticed the cherries have landed. I’ve been seeing them all over the place lately and this is good news. The bad news is the price of these little red orbs, I paid $6 per pound, which is the least expensive I’ve seen yet, and the assistant actually asked me if I was really going to buy them at almost $10 for the bag. After I recovered from the crazy look on her face I told her “Keep scanning sucka, those cherries are mine” I swiped that MasterCard and signed my name as Cherry instead of Gerry, grabbed my fruit swag and ran.
The last part didn’t really happen but she did have a crazed look. She just needed to try some dark ripe cherries slowly simmered in sugar and Cabernet and then she’d know what the fuss was about. Yup, I simmered them in red wine until the liquids turned them into a thick, rich cherry sauce. Good enough to fill a pie or poured on top of some chocolate ice cream or just licked straight from the spoon! Another reason why I was so keen to buy some cherries was so I could use my new cherry pitter from OXO, I snagged it when I attended Camp Blogaway recently and was amazed at how much time it saved me. In the past I would get the pits out by cutting the cherry in half and then squeezing the pit out by hand, a huge pain in the butt! I’m not big on gadgets but I loved this one. This dessert turned out pretty darn good, it could be made as a pie if you don’t like the idea of cherry slab pie but pie is pie. For some reason I like to turn stuff into bar form, not sure why!
I had the help of my Pie and Pastry Bible for the filling, thanks Rose Beranbaum but for the crust I used a recipe I have always had success with and that’s from Mark Bittman. I increased the almond extract in the filling and added a half cup of Cabernet. I used a 13x9x1 inch baking tray which makes it easier when cutting and scooping each square out.
For the filling- adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible
2 pounds of sour cherries, pitted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of Cabernet or any other red wine
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
Place all of the ingredients except the almond into a medium sauce pan and let sit for about 10 minutes.
When the sugar has soaked up most of the moisture, bring it all to a boil over a medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for another five minutes until the juices become thick and translucent. Remove form the heat and add stir in the almond extract. Let cool.
For the crust- Recipe from Mark Bittman
10 ounces of all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoon of sugar
2 Sticks of cold butter, each cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons of iced water, more if needed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter the baking tray, set aside.
Mark gives his instructions using a food processor but I like to use my hands, the choice is yours.
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the cut pieces of butter to the flour mixture and gently but quickly rub them together until the butter is like coarse meal.
Add the water and bring the dough together with your hands being careful not to overwork the dough. When the mixture becomes a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Half the dough into two separate pieces and roll out one piece big enough to cover the baking pan. Use lots of flour for dusting to prevent the dough sticking to the surface, don’t worry if it’s not completely square. Tuck in the sides around the pan leaving some hanging over the edge if you like. Pour the cherry mixture into the base of the pan and spread it out making sure to completely cover the base.
Roll out the second dough piece remembering to dust well with flour and lay it on top of the cherries. Tuck in any overhanging dough. Using a pastry brush glaze the surface of the bars with 2 tablespoons of egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of milk mixed together. Gently poke a few steam holes into the pastry with the point of a sharp knife.
Bake in the oven for 50 minutes until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar when cool.