A couple months ago I did a review for a cookbook called Sugar, Sugar. In my review, I mentioned that I had a list of recipes that I wanted to make from it. Well, this is one of them. The initial appeal to the recipe was because they were so strikingly red and beautiful. Can bars really be beautiful? I think so. The other part was that it used up a can of cherry pie filling that I had hiding in the back of my pantry.
I don't often make recipes that are made in a half-sheet pan, because there are only two of us and usually the recipe yields too much for us to eat. But I made these to take over to my in-laws for dinner. I left several bars for them, we ate several, then a couple days later I took the remaining bars to my mom's for dinner. To say that my little brother loved them was an understatement. He ate 6 of them! First he started off with one, then another, then another....you get the idea. I think he would have polished off the entire plate, but he was nice enough to leave some for my mom to enjoy as well. Had she given him the okay, he would have gladly eaten those too.
I thought these bars were going to be like bar cookies, but they really weren't. They were a cross between a cookie and a cake. Chewy and firm, but soft, gooey and moist all at the same time. My favorite part was the little buttery dumplings of dough that puffed up on the top of the glossy cherries. We ate these over the course of 4 days and as they aged, they got softer and gooier. I have plans to make these again for my brother so he can eat til his heart's content. He's young, tall and thin- he can stand to gain a few pounds :-).
Cherry Slices from Sugar, Sugar
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- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 larges eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional (my addition)
- 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed until well blended. Add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and beat until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the batter.
Spread the remaining batter in the baking sheet. Spoon the cherry pie filling over the top. Drop the reserved cup of batter by teaspoonfuls over the pie filling. It should look uneven. When baked, the batter on the bottom rises and creates reservoirs of cherry filling.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the batter begins to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 2-inch squares.