When I was a kid and spent a lot of time at my grandma’s, there were two things (among countless others) that were a constant: a box of Entenmann’s in the kitchen, and a coffee warmer filled to the brim sat on the dining room table all day. The coffee was primarily for my grandma and great aunt – they would frequently refill their coffee cups throughout the day. The Entenmann’s, however, was there just in case a neighbor happened to stop by sometime throughout the day. More often than not, I (along with my sister and cousins) were happy to indulge in a pastry or two. My grandma always bought the danish-style pastries with the cream cheese filling and fruit on top.
Since the warm weather hit, I’ve been thinking about doing some type of bar with cherries but couldn’t settle on exactly what I wanted to make. Then, one day I had a flashback of sitting at my grandma’s dining room table, coffee warmer on the table, and taking slice after slice of one of those danishes. I decided to make a crumb-style bar that emulated those nostalgic danishes.
I started with the crumb recipe used in the blueberry crumb bars from last summer, and par baked the bottom crust. Then, I added a simple sweetened cream cheese layer, topped it with cherry pie filling, and crumbled the remaining crumb mixture on top. Baked until golden brown, and then a simple drizzle of a powdered sugar glaze.
These. Are. Fabulous. The crumb crust and topping is crunchier and more sturdy than its danish counterpart, but the combination of flavors makes me feel like I’m sitting at my grandma’s dining room table. And honestly? There was never a better place to be.
One year ago: Key Lime Pie Bars
Two years ago: Golden Grahams S’mores Bars
Four years ago: Rocky Road Ice Cream
Five years ago: Italian Supreme Calzones
Yield: 20 to 24 bars
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Layers of cream cheese and cherry pie filling sandwiched between crumb layers and drizzled with icing.
For the Crumb:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
For the Filling:
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (21-ounce) cans cherry pie filling
For the Powdered Sugar Glaze (optional):
½ cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. Make the Crumb: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter, and then the egg (the dough will be crumbly). Press half of dough into the prepared pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool.
3. Make the Filling: In a separate large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Using an offset spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture into an even layer over the crust. Spoon the cherry pie filling in an even layer over the cream cheese mixture. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the cherry layer.
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Cool completely before adding the glaze.
5. Make the Powdered Sugar Glaze (if using): In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla extract. Add more cream if you want a thinner glaze, or more powdered sugar if you want a thicker glaze. Drizzle over the bars and allow to set.
6. The bars can be served at room temperature or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.