Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cherry Brown Butter Bars

LESLIE:  A few miles from our house sits Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, at 28 by 11 miles. The east shore is known for its cherry orchards, growing mainly the dark red Lamberts or Lapins, or the highly yummy red-gold Rainiers. As soon as our favorite orchard opens its stand in mid to late July, I buy a few pounds. Inevitably, some of Mr. Right’s patients bring us a bag or two from their trees. This year, the gifts ran well into August.

So when I spotted this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog, I knew we’d like it. I also knew mine wouldn’t turn out quite as picturesque, but oh well. I’ve modified it, of course, as I always do.

Any kind of dark, sweet cherry will do beautifully.

The original recipe called for a complicated arrangement of origami-cut parchment paper meant to mimic a tart pan with a removal bottom. My success at that can be seen by the crooked overhang. Skip that nonsense; just cut a piece long enough to overhang on two sides and trim the other two sides so the paper reaches up the walls of your baking dish, but no higher, so you can easily tuck or fold it into the corners.

I was taught to reduce the baking temperature 25 degrees when using a glass pan, but completely forgot. If you remember to do that, keep that in mind when you set your time and check for doneness.

These keep nicely for a few days. You don’t have to serve them with vanilla ice cream, but if you can, why not? 

Cherry Brown Butter Bars

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces pitted cherries (about 12 ounces before pitting)

Make crust: 
Heat over to 375°F. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix will. Pour the dough into your lined baking pan, and press evenly across the bottom of the pan with your fingers. Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes. (It will puff slightly while baking.) Cool in the pan on a rack. Leave the oven on.

Make the filling: 
Wash your saucepan and melt the butter, then cook it over medium heat, stirring regularly, until it turns a deep nutty brown. (It will foam in the process, but you’ll see the color change beneath the foam.) Melting and browning will take about 6-8  minutes. Pour butter into a glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and salt. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange the cherries in the bottom of the cooled crust. Carefully pour the browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake until filling is puffed and golden, and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Lift the bars from the pan using the parchment paper overhang and place on a cutting board, still on the paper. Sharpen your knife! Then cut into squares.

Makes 16- 2-inch square bars.

Happy snacking, from Flathead Lake, Montana!

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Wow! These look so delicious -- thanks for sharing the recipe ~

  2. Just last night while making another fresh fruit salad and bemoaning the PITA of doing all those cherries by hand, I told my husband we are definitely springing for a cherry pitter this week! I have a whole pound of cherries left and was going to make clafoutis,but thanks to you, Leslie, as soon as we buy the pitter I'll be making this yummy treat!

    1. Must have pitter, must have pitter! It's not necessary for a small amount like this recipe calls for, but for drying, freezing, or canning, must have pitter!

  3. Wow these look fabulous. Thanks for sharing the recipe

  4. Yum!
    I bet you don't pay the silly prices some of our stores charge for cherries.

    1. Most orchards charge $2-2.50 a pound, though some charge another 25 cents for Rainiers, which aren't as commonly grown. I haven't been to a U-Pick orchard; no idea what they charge.

    2. But we are lucky -- many of our cherries are gifts from patients who have their own trees! We live on the other side of the mountain ridge away from the warm lake breezes -- too chilly here!

  5. Oh, another delicious way to use cherries! I love the season and look forward to it all year.