You need to make these buttery cherry bars

I love summertime cherries. For a baker, they signify so many possibilities, from yummy pies to flaky tarts. These easy-to-make bars turn a couple handfuls of sweet cherries into a dessert that's effortless, decadent, and impossibly nuanced. A streamlined tart crust is par-baked and dotted with pitted cherries. A simple sweet custard is poured over the fruit and bakes up to surround the fruit in pillowy softness. 

The secret to the bars' complex and sophisticated flavor? Browned butter. Yep, cook butter on the stove top until it turns a deep brown color and smells amazing. I sometimes make more browned butter than I need, store it in the fridge, and take it out to butter my toast at breakfast, just saying. I digress. Please make these cherry bars. Your friends and family will thank you. You owe it to cherries. You owe it to summer. You owe it to yourself!

Gather the ingredients

The ingredient list for these rich, fruity bars is simple, which is what we all want from summer desserts, right? The basic flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt are magically whipped into both crust and filling. Speckled with fresh sweet cherries (wear an apron when you pit those, trust me!), and you have yourself an easy treat that makes good use of seasonal fruit.

Need more details? Get a full ingredients list and step-by-step instructions at the end of this article. 

Make the crust

The crust is is easy to mix and press into the prepared pan. When you line your pan with parchment, be sure to leave some paper hanging over the sides so you have something to lift the bar out of the pan with. Also, it'll brown a lot quicker and get much darker when you use a dark colored pan as opposed to a glass one. You'll notice that mine are browner on the edges (and the bottom) because all I had on hand was a dark pan.

Bake the criust

You just need the crust to be lightly golden so keep an eye out on it and check a few minutes early, just to be sure there's no burning.

Brown the butter

Browned butter is one of my favorite things to incorporate into desserts, as it lends them a deep and nutty flavor. Be sure to use a light-colored pan so you can see the color of the butter change to a deep golden color. This happens quickly so you want to pay attention and avoid burning the butter—although some burnt bits at the bottom are to be expected.

Make the filling

The filling is all about vigorous whisking. Use a wire whisk and elbow grease to make sure all the ingredients are well blended. You're aiming for a smooth filling that silkily pours over the fruit.

Assemble the bar

Assembly is hardly assembly at all. Arrange the cherries on top of the cooled crust and pour over the filling. That's it.

Bake the bar

Baking times depend largely on the type of pan you use and your oven. The best thing to do is check on your bar early, around 25 minutes. Mine is a bit browner around the edges than I would have liked. I lost track of time!

Serve the bar

Let the bar cool completely before cutting to yield cleaner slices. I got about 16 small squares, but how you cut it up is up to you! Anything you don't finish within a day can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Okay, I'm out. Go at it.

Directions

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Servings: 16

Ingredients:

(For the crust)

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, all-purpose flour
  • Dash of kosher salt

(For the filling)

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Dash kosher salt
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
  • 10 ounces sweet cherries, pitted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar until fully combined. Add the flour and a dash of salt and stir until just incorporated. 
  2. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined 8x8-inch baking pan, ensuring that some parchment hangs over the edges. 
  3. Using your fingertips, press the dough evenly into the pan. Transfer the prepared dough to the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden and slightly puffed, 18-20 minutes.
  4. While the crust bakes, place the butter into a small pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a glass measuring cup or bowl to cool.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, 2 eggs, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt until fully combined. Whisking continuously, add the browned butter slowly until combined. Add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
  6. Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the cooled crust. Carefully pour the filling over the cherries evenly. 
  7. Transfer the pan to the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden and set in the middle, 30-35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Using the parchment overhang, lift the bar out of the pan and cut into squares. Enjoy!