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This recipe is part of Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies.

Chewy Almond and Cherry Bars

Chewy Almond and Cherry Bars

This bar cookie from Cookies and Brownies is so simple you can probably make it from ingredients you have on hand right now. But if you go for the cherry and almond combination, you'll get a chewy frangipane base spiked with tangy cherries - perfect as a breakfast snack or for a late afternoon sugar craving.

This recipe bakes evenly in an 8x8 pan, and even though you let it cool in that pan you'll get a dense, moist cookie-cake. The next time I make this, I'm going to try varying the nuts and make a pecan or hazelnut base instead. I think this is an enormously versatile cookie, and wrapped well it stays moist and chewy for days.

A few notes about this recipe:

  • Assume 1 c unbleached AP flour = 4.5 oz
  • Lightly chop the cherries - and use this opportunity to check for stray pits! There's nothing worse than hitting a pit or a shell. Except maybe losing a filling.
  • I used dried sour cherries, but you could use dried Bing cherries. You'll get a sweeter result, but a little bit of grated orange or lemon zest in the almonds might give this a tart pop to balance the sweeter cherries. 
  • I would increase the amount of cherries a bit more, just so every bite is a good chewy/sweet/tart combination.

Chewy Almond and Cherry Bars
3/4 c whole almonds, with or without skins
1 c AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
8 T unsalted butter
3/4 c + 2 T sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c dried tart cherries, preferably Montmorency, or dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots

8-inch square pan, lined across the bottom and up 2 opposite sides with parchment paper or foil

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Process the almonds with the flour in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until the almonds are finely ground.
  3. Add the salt and baking powder and pulse to mix. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg and almond extract.
  7. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the dried fruit.
  8. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
  9. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top is light golden brown.
  10. Cool in the pan on a rack.
  11. Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan. Lift the ends of the paper or foil liner and transfer to a cutting board.
  12. Use a long sharp knife to cut into 16 squares.

Makes 16 bars

May be stored, airtight, for at least 1 week

This recipe comes from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, and is available on Purple House Dirt with permission from the author.


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Do you think this would work with chopped dates instead of the cherries?

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Sure, dates should work just fine!

In fact, you could probably use just about any dried fruit like apricots or mangoes. If you want to know if they will taste good together, you could always take a bite of the dried fruit with a whole almond. That's how I'd check it. Almonds are fairly inoffensive, and they're likely to go with just about anything you throw at them.

Also, make sure you're using dried fruit (dehydrated) and not freeze-dried fruit. There's a big difference in how those would turn out (one would be chewy, the other would likely fall apart in your dough).

Good luck!

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Do you think this would work with chopped dates instead of the cherries?