Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bourbon Cherry Bars

In the heat of summer, a lot of us are taking advantage of the fresh berries at the store. A dessert made with fresh berries is always welcome, however, these types of items must be kept cold or served right away. The alternative to that is turning to the "dried" form of fruit. I am very picky when it comes to dried fruit. It must be somewhat chewy and gummy, not hard. Some brands miss the mark and the fruit part of your dessert is leathery instead of chewy.

Regardless if I plan to plump the fruit in a type of liquid or use it as is, I look for the biggest and freshest prepared pieces. I know the size is not an option when it comes to berries, but a bag that is clumped or stuck to the dried fruit inside is better than the alternative to a package that is loose and airy. Also, spending the time to seeking out big slices of dried apples or pineapple is well worth it.

Some people may see this recipe as a little "off season" but when it comes to tasty desserts, but seasonality has little influence on the decision to eat or not. One bite of the delicious layer of pecan topped with bourbon soaked cherries and a nutty glaze will give you the realization that eating a piece is the only thing to do.

Bourbon Cherry Bars
adapted from The Oregonian

1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 stick or 6 tablespoon of butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 toasted, cooled pecans
2 cups dried cherries
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the interior of an 8 inch square baking pan. Line bottom and two sides of the pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 of the sides.

To make the bottom layer, start by creaming the butter with the salt and only 1/2 a cup of brown sugar. Blend in the egg. Set aside.

Using a blender or food processor, pulse together the flour with only 1 cup of the pecans. Pulse until the mixture has fine pieces of pecans in the flour. Be careful not to over process the mixture causing the pecans to become a nut butter. Once the processing is done, empty the contents into the creamed butter/sugar batter and blend with a wooden spoon.

Put all of the pecan dough into the prepared pan and press into the bottom. Form it into a smooth, even layer covering all along the bottom of the pan. Place pan in oven and let bake for about 20 minutes. It will have a golden brown hue when done.

While the first layer is baking, create the second layer. Empty the cherries into a blender or food processor and pulse until cherries are chopped into 1/4 inch pieces. Take all the cherry pieces and place in a saucepan. Add the bourbon, remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until all sugar is dissolved and mixture resembles pie filling. All the liquid is to be cooked out.

Smooth the cherry mixture over the pecan layer. Let cool completely before icing. Mix powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of water and drizzle over the top. Then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of nuts evenly on top. Once icing has set up, remove from pan by using the parchment. Then cut and serve.

Tips and Notes:
1. Using bourbon or a bourbon/water mixture for the icing is an option. Remember the bourbon will remain strong since the icing is not cooked, so do not over do it.

2. Don't panic because the bottom layer (prior to baking) is like a very thick frosting instead of a dough, that is the way it is supposed to be.
                                      **LAST YEAR: Peach Kolaches**