Frozen cherries allow me to make the “Cherry Streusel Bars” from the June/July 2017 issue of Cook’s Country in the middle of winter. And what a serious treat this is.

Cherry Streusel Bars
Cook’s Country, June/July 2017
Makes 24 2-inch squares

2½ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces

2 cups frozen cherries, slightly thawed
1 cup cherry preserves
2 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. almond extract
Pinch salt

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup slivered almonds, chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces

FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375º. Make foil sling for 13 by 9-inch baking pan by folding two long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Spray foil lightly with vegetable oil spray.

(First, chop the slivered almonds in the food processor, then set aside for the streusel.) Then, for the crust, process flour, sugar and salt and in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand, about 15 pulses.

Transfer 1¼ cups dough to a medium bowl and set aside. Transfer remaining dough to prepared pan and use your hands to evenly distribute it over bottom of pan (dough will be slightly dry). Using bottom of dry measuring cup, firmly press dough into even layer. Bake until light golden brown, 19 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

FOR THE CHERRY FILLING Meanwhile, wipe processor bowl clean with paper towels. Pulse all ingredients to food processor and until finely chopped, about 7 pulses, set aside.

FOR THE STREUSEL: Add oats, almonds and sugar to reserved dough and toss to combine. Add butter and rub mixture between your fingers until butter is fully incorporated and mixture forms small clumps. Set aside streusel.

Transfer filling to pan and spread evenly over crust (crust needn’t be cool). Sprinkle streusel evenly over filling (do not press streusel into filling). Bake until filling is bubbling and streusel is deep golden brown, 32 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer pan to wire rack and let bars cool completely. Using foil overhang, lift bars out of pan. Cut into 24 squares and serve.

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We win with the layers of flavors, here. The crispy crust tastes like a cookie. The cherries are sweet. And the sweet topping is crunchy with almonds. How nice to have this much fun … in the middle of winter.

Next time, I’ll return to the savory world to make the “Sweet Onion, Gruyère, Pancetta, and Potato Turnover” from the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Fine Cooking. Come back to my site next week to witness another victory with frozen puff pastry.