cherry brown butter bars Recipes

cherry brown butter bars

I don’t know what’s happening to me — maybe it’s third trimester dwindling energy levels and an accompanying desire to get the most bang from my feeble bursts of productivity — but all of a sudden, I find myself saying that I don’t want to cook this thing or that because it’s not practical. Practical! Who am I? Certainly not the girl who baked a wedding cake last summer in her tiny, overheated kitchen. Certainly not a person who has [shh, can’t tell you]-making and a 12-layer cake on her summer cooking agenda.

sweet cherries

Take this recipe, for example. It was originally a delicious-looking raspberry brown butter tart from this month’s Bon Appetit magazine. And although I usually associate brown butter with winter cooking — hazelnut brown butter cakes, brown butter shorties, pear crisps and brown butter with chestnuts and brussels sprouts, yes please. — and although I’ve never met a dessert tart I didn’t like, all I could think was “these would be so much more practical as a bar cookie!” Practical, there’s that word again. It’s all over for me, isn’t it?

cherry pittingpits and stemscherries a-pittedliquid ingredientscherries, awaiting their gluecherries, brown butter fillingfrom the ovencherry brown butter bars

But really, at least for the kinds of summers I have — lots of rooftop barbecues and pot-luck parties — finger food always trumps things that need to be sliced and plated in the ease-of-use department. So I hacked the lovely tart and turned it into bar cookies, and then instead of raspberries, which were nowhere to be found at my market, I used sweet South Jersey cherries. The end result surprised me — it both looked and tasted vaguely of a cherry clafoutis, except with its pastry crust and brown butter depth, so much better. The only thing I’ve yet to pull off is getting it out of the apartment and into the hands of friends, though once you try them, you’ll understand why.

cherry brown butter bars

One year ago: Zucchini Strand Spaghetti
Two years ago: Everyday Yellow Dal

Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Adapted from Bon Appetit

The recipe I drew inspiration from is a 9-inch fluted tart with raspberries that if early commenters are any indication, is nothing short of delightful. What I’ve hacked it into is something a little more casual and finger-food friendly, or in our case, easier to pack up and share with friends, you know, if we’re feeling generous. As for the fruit you use, no need to limit yourself to either cherries or raspberries — use whatever looks best by you right now, or whatever you have on hand. I bet you could even carry this into fall with apple or pear slivers.

Special equipment: Although not a prerequisite to make these, if you’re the type of person who has cherry pitter or even a removable-bottom brownie pan, this recipe will be even more of a cinch.

Makes 16 2-inch square bars (pictured), or 32 2×1-inch bars, if you, like me, prefer baked goods bite-sized

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

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries, which will yield 12 ounces of pitted cherries, which yielded some leftovers, perfect for snacking (alternately, you can use 12 ounces of the berry of your choice)

Make crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.) Congratulations! You’ve just faked a square tart pan.

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl, or if you’re Deb, in the bottom of the small saucepan you used to melt the butter. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries, or the berries of your choice, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.

Do ahead: Can be made at least a day ahead, and stored at room temperature. Any longer, keep them cool in the fridge.

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219 comments on cherry brown butter bars

  1. The way you placed those cherries so perfectly makes my heart sing.

    And I watched that video when Elise linked to it. I immediately thought: That chef is a little hottie.

    Congrats. It’s a great site.

  2. I’ve been meaning to make the raspberry version since I saw it in Bon Apetit. I’m especially excited with your modification because the bar cookie feature (which is what I bought the magazine for) was more than a little disappointing. But tart, bar cookie, whatever… as long as there’s pastry involved, I’m sold. (Though this summer’s bathing suit is still crumpled in the bottom of my lingerie drawer. Oh how I miss the summer of my pregnancy–lots of pastry, chips & dip, and ice cream, and not a swatch of Lycra in sight!)

  3. I totally made that tart! I did it in the tart pan, and it is by far the best dessert I have ever made. Also my most popular post, ever. This cherry version/riff looks great… now I just have to find myself a cherry pitter :)

  4. catherine

    lovely! what do you think about my using rhubarb in place of cherries? i’d roll the pieces in granulated sugar prior to placing them…

  5. A cherry pitter! How extraordinary! My ex-boyfriend’s mother used to make a cherry clafouti with the cherries from their own tree. She didn’t pit the fruit, which made eating the desert all the more messy and fun!

  6. Eily

    I interrupt my regularly scheduled lurking to let you know how excited I get whenever my RSS reader tells me SmittenKitchen has a new post. Every time, I think “Yes! SmittenKitchen! I love Deb.” Whenever I’m asked where a recipe comes from, I pimp SK. I’m embarrassed to admit that today, for the first time, it occurred to me that you might like to know these things. As does almost everything on the site (Woman, because of you, I actually pickled! grapes!), this looks amazing. I can’t wait to give it a try. Thank you, many times over.

  7. Sharon

    I saw this picture and thought, wow, makes me want to make cherry clafoutis. Then I read that this is even better?!? MUST MAKE NOW!

  8. You know something, Deb? You actually changed my life about a year ago when you lamented your lack of cherry pitter when making a cake (I think it was your cherry cornmeal cake). I had never thought of buying such a thing — a gadget to do only one thing. It seemed like blasphemy to me. But, we never used to buy cherries because I hated spitting out the cherry pits like an uncouth youth. And, then, I thought about it some more and decided that I must have one. And that cherry pitter (in fact the identical cherry pitter that you have) has changed my life slightly. I buy cherries gleefully now, excited about punching out those pesky little pits.
    Anyway, this recipe sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to try it.

  9. Maggi

    Hey! That video was great!!! All three of you look good! ;) Which reminds me, I have to make more of that chicken salad…it rocks. and I’ll make the cherry bars for dessert…

  10. Susan

    I love cherries (duh..who doesn’t) but I’ve been so leary of using sweet cherries in recipes. All my older recipes call for tart cherries and I’m never sure how much to adjust the sugar. Plus..sweet cherries bleed alot. I made that cherry cornmeal upside down thing you posted once..delicious, but it was a deep burgundy that bled through the cake quite a bit. Your bars here don’t appear to have, though. Did you rinse them well after pitting or were they just firm and a bit on the under ripe side?

  11. This is a fabulous looking dessert- anything with butter and fruit is going to be a winner!
    I’ve watched a video of you, Elsie and Jaden; it’sgreat!

  12. Oh no! Another reason to buy cherries! I am obsessed with them :) I can’t wait to try this one. And if I can wait until later in the summer, we’ll start getting yellow Hood River cherries here (Oregon)…which makes me want to re-tart-ify or cake-ify your bars and try the yellow cherries together with some yellow plum jam we have from last year, too. Ahh, brown butter, I can’t wait.

  13. catherino

    I’ve been thinking about that tart since the moment I saw the recipe. How genius of you to adapt it into bars!

  14. Jean Marie

    I have an old, very handy plastic cherry pitter and used it yesterday to pit a ton of cherries. And then made cherry clafouti which was delicious. Obviously, now we need to have cherry brown butter bars. Have fun with the videos!

  15. I love that you turned the tart into bar cookies! I’m the exact same way, I actually rarely even make cookies because I’d rather just throw the batter in a pan and bake it. They look so good!

  16. gab

    very timely, just picked twenty two pounds of bings.so thanks for the idea.
    deb, you are terrific in the video- nice job!

  17. Jess

    Is it just me or do the bars not look baked enough in the middle? They look like they would be gummy. Is it all the moisture from the cherries?

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe. I just made your sweet cherry pie over the weekend! (http://tr.im/qdpe) To be safe, I purchased WAY too many cherries and now you’ve given me another excuse to bake with the leftovers. You rock!

  19. I adore this recipe. Anything with brown butter, really. And the cherries? Oh my goodness, this looks amazing! Congratulations on your video projects. I checked a couple of them out and you look so good. The camera likes you. Yay!

    As for the “practical,” I think it’s ok to seek it especially during the first few months of birth. It’s necessary and it can also be fun. Good luck!!

  20. You have been making some absolutely delicious desserts lately. I want to try this one so badly! I also thought the strawberry dumplings looked amazing.

  21. Is that the Williams-Sonoma gold pan? I’m so in love with those at the moment … I’ve already dropped some (read, too many) bucks for the round cake pans and the loaf pans. As if I needed more bakeware. Wait, what am I saying … of course, I needed them….

  22. This reminds me vaguely of a recipe my mom used to make–but with no flaky pastry crust, non-brown butter, and canned cherry pie filling. So basically the white trash version of this.

    But in all it’s Midwestern church cookbook-esque glory, my mom’s recipe is dang tasty. So I can only imagine how good yours must be!

  23. Wow! My inlaws are coming over in – ack! – three days, and I’m planning on making pierogi (it’s has been a chilly and damp summer so far). This would be a nice homey dessert for afters!

  24. LVM

    I love this site so much. You have such a fun, positive “voice” in your writing – it cheers me up when I see a new post in my Google Reader!

    This is a delicious recipe. I halved it, and used my mini-cheesecake pan (taking the baking time down from 40 min to 30 min) and used raspberries instead. Oh are they good!!!

  25. Ooooo…wish I’d had this recipe for my pint of blackberries. Looks like they’ll be another pint of blackberries in my life soon. :-) Thanks for sharing…and I love the idea of making this a bar cookie recipe!

  26. B

    I like the idea of the bar and I totaly agree with your comment about how easy to pick food is the first one that is eaten and enjoyed at a party rather than one that has to be sliced. I have got some cherries i canned last year that I will try the tart with. Thanks for the recipe

  27. I love the cherry cornmeal cake in your recipes, and now I’m gonna have to try this one while cherries are still relatively inexpensive. Yummmmmm.

    A question, though – I saw above where you suspected the bars were very slightly underbaked. How would you describe the ideal texture of the filling? Is it cakey, or kind of a “fudgy” texture (but obviously minus the fudge)? This recipe is super-intriguing to me. Thanks Deb!

    1. deb

      Lisa — Fudgy, I’d say. Slightly more custard-tasting than a frangipane but firm/soft like that. And my crust got pretty crisp.

      JC — Yes. Sometimes they kinda hang off the end and I have to pull them out. But still, as someone who once pitted a pound of cherries with a paring knife, I can’t say enough good things about having a pitter now, as frivolous of a purchase as it had seemed last year when I caved and bought it.

  28. Chelsia

    Deb, I LOVED your lil video cast!!! It adds so much dimension to your recipe-tales that I simply ADORE reading. Thanks for posting and I am definitely staying tuned :D

    I saw a recipe similar tothis that involved almond paste and as many berries as you can manage so I am just putting it out there – just a little, no marzipan here … but a bit of almond paste :D

  29. Beth

    My 20 year old son was looking over my shoulder, and even he said they look delicious… why don’t you make those, Mom? Soon, soon… maybe tomorrow?

  30. JC

    Is it me, or does your cherry pitter not work 100% of the time? I do not have the one pictured above with the little clear plastic hood (OXO, I think?), mine is all metal, and it causes me so much frustration I end up hand pitting. Messy. Time consuming.

    My kids love cherries and can’t pit for themselves yet (too young!), so if the OXO one IS working for you pretty close to 100% of the time, I’d love to know!

  31. Nadia

    Those cherries look glorious, in the dessert and out. I tried making brown butter the other day for the first time but mucked it up. Now I’ll have to try again, although to me brown butter’s most natural fruit partner is apple, don’t know why, maybe too many tart tatins eaten in a lifetime. Someone tipped me off about a brown butter and apple cake in “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth” by Jill O’Connor.

  32. Dan

    I haven’t been paying much attention to my RSS feeds, because we’re expecting a baby and have been busy. And then I go and try to catch up and I see you’re expecting as well! So, I’m wishing you and Alex a very belated congratulations!

  33. Jennifer

    I too saw the tart in Bon Appétit magazine and made it. But I used Strawberries instead. Honestly, it was a long process and no one really liked it. It thought it tasted good but knowing all of that butter was in there made it really hard to enjoy. Plus it didn’t look pretty. So, I hope others have better luck with it than I did. You certainly did!

  34. kellymo

    I’m thinking a combination of sweet cherries & blueberries would make a good ‘4th of July fireworks’ picnic dessert…

  35. psssh who needs practical cooking anyway. i love cherries so much but rarely bake with them. i think they’re a fruit best served in a big bowl just the way they are.

  36. What do you think about sour cherries (pie cherries)? I have a fabulous tree full of them in a couple weeks and am always looking for different recipes. This looks like a winner. Love your blog!

  37. Dani

    Just stopping by to say I’m excited about the video project. I’ve been a reader for a long time and I remember – back when it was smitten (sans kitchen) and you were unhappy at that awful job you had and you wanted to quit your job to ice cupcakes…well you’ve come a long way, no? It keeps me inspired that I too will eventually find my professional way….Oh and the cherry brown butter bars look divine – but that goes without saying.

  38. erin

    In the process of baking this as I am typing this. I decided to go with the tart pan, just because I wanted a more formal presentation, as this is a dessert for my Dad since his favorite is cherries (and I didn’t get to see him on Father’s Day. oops!) My first experience with the tart pan! And browning butter! I also threw in a little almond extract into the filling mix since I will be serving this with toasted almond gelato.
    I saw your video on Serious Eats, and before it even started, I thought, “wait, Deb’s going to talk about a chicken breast recipe?! That she likes?!” You were so cute though.

  39. This sounds and looks delicious! Cherries should be ripe for picking around here in a week or two and this will definitely be on the “todo” list :) Thanks!

  40. Amy

    Mom’s cherries are ripening fast and this looks like something yummy to do with them once we’ve gorged ourselves on them plain. I ought to take a picture of my cherry pitter sometime, if I can find it again. Some handmade thing my grandpa made. Small round wooden handle with a curved wire loop on the end.

    Tell you what, though. This is *not* going into a tart pan! Small bar cookies > tarts.

  41. this looks yummy.
    i am away with lousy internet access and i cannot tell you how much i miss checking out your wonderful site as soon as they reach my feed reader!

  42. These look delicious. I have been feasting on the latest cherries from the market here in Alberta and definitely don’t have energy yet to turn them into anything more … but this is seriously inspiring.

    I love the idea of videos of you and other bloggers! Sounds like fun.

  43. Daria

    my grandmother pitted cherries with the non-opening end of a safety pin. easier than using a knife i assume, but probably not as good as a cherry pitter.

  44. What’s this? Better than clafoutis? You have my attention. I just picked up another bursting bag of cherries from the farm stand today. Now I know just what to do with them.

  45. Xai

    ohhh. this looks so good. i am planning on doing clafoutis but then this changed my mind. now i am confused. i saw your videos on good bite. they were so much fun. keep it up.

  46. Holly

    I just had to speak up and tell you that your practical side coming through won’t last forever – it sounds like you are ‘nesting’ as they call it. In the meantime, be glad that it leads to lovely creations like this!

  47. Laura

    I made your wedding cake recipes in cupcake form for a party this weekend and they were a huge hit! The chocolate cake is chocolatier than anything I’ve had before.

  48. liz m.

    i had a bag of cherries in the fridge that was going to go bad if i let them sit another day, so this recipe came at just the right time. i whipped this up last night and i have to say: it is DELICIOUS. i’d never made or cooked with brown butter before, but i am loving the depth of its flavor. thank you so much for yet another great recipe! :)

  49. EllaElise

    beautiful dessert! love love the new project you’re in and you’re so freaking adorable and you and alex are going to have the CUTEST baby ever :) get tons of rest momma!

  50. So I almost threw my laptop on the floor in my haste to run out and buy a cherry pitter (the one kitchen gadget I don’t own). Brown butter=life-changing.
    Thanks so much for such consistently wonderful recipes and posts- I do a little squealy dance of glee when you show up on Google Reader.

  51. What a fabulous idea! I actually used that recipe and another brown butter tart recipe (from Food & Wine) to make little tartlets with raspberries (I want to use necatarines too but for some reason the ones I got were all mushy). This would have been so much less time-consuming!

    I agree about finger foods trumping anything that needs to be sliced, etc.

  52. These look crazy good and living in a WA state where we ship 747s full of cherries all over the world, I shall snag a few for my own devices, one being making these brownies. My own orchard is young and produces enough for a month of handfuls (and ‘beakfuls’ if you’re a crow or robin).

  53. Marie M.

    Deb — I LOVE the videos. You look adorable. What a great idea. I’ve always wanted to see you on TV. You and The Pioneer Woman, and Elsie and Orangette and . . . Wouldn’t that be a great Food Network show?

    I think I’ve eaten 10 pounds of Bing cherries all by myself in the past two-three weeks. Just wish the cherry season was a tad bit longer. I love them cold from the fridge. Oh, and Cherries Jubilee. Easy-peasy.

  54. Dear Deb:
    Rest assured, any recipe that involves pitting cherries can never be called practical.

    That said, I lost my cooking mojo in the 3rd trimester and it returned when bebe was about 2 months old.

  55. Deb, I hope you take this in the best way possible, but seeing this and reading the rest of the site for like a year now and watching that video makes me really want to be you when I grow up!

  56. Lindsey

    I made these tonight and took them to my bible study–they were quickly devoured! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  57. onhazier

    I’ve got a batch that is 1/2 cherry and 1/2 blueberry in the oven right now. This so easy and the batter is excellent! Thanks for the inspiration, Deb.

  58. Perfect! I have some Rainier (white cherries) & Bing Cherries on the counter, just freshly picked yesterday! I’m also gonna pick up some blueberries and make it a Red/White/Blue Butter Bar for 4th of July! Thanks for sharing your recipe=)

  59. Josephine

    Deb,
    This looks divine, do you think I could use sour cherries & increase the sugar? My MIL has lots on her tree and we’ll be picking them soon. Do you think a little almond extract would work in this recipe if I used the sour cherries? Thanks!

  60. Susan

    OK, I have to confess – I made these yesterday since i had a few left from my weekend farmer’s market fruit binge (few=exactly the amount called for in this recipe.) Yum. These are fantastic!

    1. deb

      Sharon — I have mine in the freezer. They freeze just fine.

      Those that have asked about sour cherries — I definitely think they could work, but it’s hard for me to guess how you should adjust the sugar, or if you have to adjust the sugar at all, without trying it at home. And I’ve had no luck finding sour cherries (yet) (sniffle). If you’re not fearful of undersweetened desserts — I, for one, am not — try the recipe just as is. If you can leave a comment letting others know how it worked, I am sure they’d appreciate it, as would I.

  61. Paula in Colorado

    This looks delicious, as does the chicken salad. I plan on making both this weekend. And, you look great on the video. Please don’t get camera shy and quit making them. . .

  62. Awesome! I saw this recipe in BA this month too, but raspberries are so pricey! Cherries, while still pricy, are simply BIGGER. And I love that top photo. What a mod, polka dot effect you’ve accomplished with the cherries!

  63. I saw the video earlier this week and was so very excited for you! I’m looking forward to trying the bars. I need to catch up on my summer fruit baking.

  64. CC

    Loved these! I too saw the recipe in Bon Apetite, used your recipe for bar cookies but kept the raspberries. These were unbelievably delicious!! And as a mother of four–I am totally into the practicality of this recipe. Kudos Deb!

  65. Can you tell me about how many cups 12 oz of cherries is? a cup and a half? two cups? I bought cherries today, but I am not sure how much, and I don’t have a scale.

  66. So, I was craving something baked and decadent, and had a container of fresh blueberries in the fridge, along with some frozen ones. I also only had dark brown sugar, so I winged it. 6 oz of frozen wild berries and 6 oz of fresh berries were sort of overload when I put them in the pan, but I went with it. And I cut the brown sugar down in the filling; probably 1/3 cup.

    The only thing it feels like it’s missing? Probably some lemon or something to freshen up the flavor in the filling. I think if the berries had been all fresh, it would have been tastier.

    Lots of criticisms later, I still find it incredibly good, buttery, and unfortunately probably all ending up in my tummy!

  67. debi

    amazing!!! the hubby LOVES cherries and anything containing them so i had to make these…. the only(minor)change i made was putting a vanilla bean in while browning the butter.

  68. rachel

    Hi Deb! I was wondering what your thought is on pan type for bar cookies. I have seen people recommend metal a lot lately. I was wondering what your thought was on metal square pan vs. glass. Do I have to adjust the baking time if I use glass instead?

  69. Payal

    Hi! Made these last night with blackberries instead of cherries, because that’s what I had. I also substituted a little bit of the vanilla with almond extract. They got rave reviews from everyone fast enough to get one. Thanks!

  70. Beth

    I made these with a slightly tart cherry from the farmer’s market and just cut into them… they are GREAT! I had to remind my 15 year old son that they were not dinner… and stop eating or they would be gone in 25 minutes… Thank you for a great treat!!! I wonder if they will last the night?

  71. I made these tonight with blueberries (um, because I ate all the farmer’s market cherries before I had time to bake…) and it’s delish, although I think I went a bit heavy with the berries, and they aren’t nearly as pretty as yours, Deb. I added about 1 tbsp. of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon to the filling. Can’t wait to make them again with cherries!

  72. gentlekath

    These were a really quick desert. They are so good! I didnt have nonsalted butter, so I used the salted stuff and reduced the amount of salt in the recipe by half. Worked perfect! I actually added a bit of fresh ground nutmeg (Just because I love fresh nutmeg). YUM-O!

  73. Practical is important if you are toting baked goods all over town (say, up to the Bronx and back to Brooklyn by subway). Crumbles, cobblers, all those juicy things meant to be served warm: not good. Bars that can be sliced up, plopped into muffin papers (genius idea I nabbed from my friend Bonnie), and boxed efficiently, later to be picked up neatly by buffet grazers: super. Plus you can steal a bar for yourself and no one will know, but don’t let on I told you.

    I made the blueberry bars last week. These cherry ones are calling to me, but louder still shout the four bananas browning on my counter. (I think I’ll use Molly Wizenberg’s banana bread recipe as cited by Luisa at the Wednesday Chef this week.)

  74. Susan

    I made the original recipe of this (I had used my cherries in a clafoutis the other day) as all I had were the raspberries. This is an excellent recipe. I just love the crust, it’s so easy to put together and so crisp, sweet and buttery. The filling is also wonderful with the browned butter, what a great flavor. Who’d have thought browned butter would work with raspberries? Next time, I’ll use the cherries, as I loved their flavor when baked. You were right, this is like a clafoutis in a crust. Excellent! Thanks, Deb.

  75. Kathleen

    i just made these for our fourth of july lunch and i am blown away! brown butter, where have you been all my life?

  76. Wow. I made these yesterday and they were FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC. Thank you so much. A huge hit at the bbq I was at as well. thank you. LOVE. My previous favorite baked good may have been displaced (cherry oatmeal cookies).

  77. Q

    Congrats on the new project!!! That’s quite a lineup:) The cherry brown butter bars sound great – I think I would prefer the cherries to raspberries, too.

  78. Erica

    Made these this weekend and brought them to a party. I kept seeing an Argentine man sneak back to the plate…eating a total of about 12 of them (1″x1″ bite-sized pieces). A huge hit. They smell unbelievable when baking.

  79. lmcshay

    Amazing. I made two batches this weekend for the 4th; one blueberry the other raspberry. My baking skills our lacking and people still loved them and they looked gorgeous!

  80. Made these this weekend, using blackberries to fill out the strawberry/blueberry combo left over from Independence Day pancakes. Absolutely delicious, thanks so much! This was the first time I’ve used brown butter in sweet concoctions, and definitely won’t be the last.

    And it worked just fine doubled in a 9×13, for future reference. I probably could have polished off a single recipe on my own. ;)

  81. TK

    I made these for a 5th of July party (yes, 5th, not 4th, long story…). The crust came out crisp and buttery and packed with flavor, the cherries were delicious, but the filling was not up to the level of the rest of this recipe – it tasted too much like egg. I suspect I messed up the brown butter somehow. I cooked it until medium brown and while transferring to a measuring cup to cool noticed that the brown color came from tiny little specks (solids?) that floated to the top. Any idea what I did wrong and how to correct it? I should note that the rest of the people did not share my disappointment and finished the (doubled!) recipe in no time. Deb, you are getting many admirers in Tucson, AZ every time I make one of your recipes, I feel like I should put a little pile of cards with your website URL next to the plate to bypass all the requests for recipes.

  82. Sky

    It’s me again, the gal who never has the right equipment. This time I didn’t have a cherry pitter, so I did it the old fashioned way with a tiny paring knife. This took quite awhile, but it was worth it. I used Bing cherries from Eastern Washington which were truly divine, and home made vanilla. I definitely will make these again, but I think leaving it the oven a bit longer would be best. Mine too, were a little undercooked at 40 minutes even though the tester came out clean. Sour cherries would be really good too, especially if serving with ice cream. I served mine with a scoop of vanilla cherry ice cream. Dangerously delicious!

  83. WOW! I don’t remember how I found your site/blog but, I’m really glad I did. I bought a bag of Cherries at a farmstand off 101N near San Jose with no real purpose for them (other than eating nealry half a pound on the way up to Sonoma). I found your site and decided to give the recipe a try. Im not the best baker and they didn’t look as pretty as yours but, they were a HUGE success! Thank you!

  84. John

    These bars keep really well. After 3 days in a sealed container at room temperature they were better than out of the oven, and after a week they were still moist and tasty.

    Having a recipe using fresh cherries, without drowning them in sugar, is great. But what I like best about this recipe is the bottom layer. It’s thinner and sturdier than a typical shortbread-like base for bars, but not so stiff it’s hard to cut through. I pre-baked it to golden brown the first time (which was too much after full baking). For later batches I found that pre-baking to blond gold yielded perfect results. It’s a component worth using in many other desserts.

  85. My husband keeps urging me to make things that are more practical. And this pregnancy I’m ready to think practical is a good idea!

    A friend of mine just brought me some cherries.

    But I don’t have a pitter; you must have cherries a lot since you remarked that you limit your kitchen supplies because of the small kitchens there.

    I was thinking of making a cherry clafoutis but this looks yummy, too!

  86. Sharon

    I made this for my family today. I loved it, with a few reservations. I used a tart pan, since my 8″ square does not have straight sides. It did not release easily from the pan, but I got it out in one piece. My cherries must have been extra juicy, as they bled signigicantly more than in yours. Still tasty, but not as pretty. I would make this again, in bar form. I think I preferred the clafoutis presentation-wise. Thanks for the great recipe, yet again!

  87. The only person disappointed with these at a housewarming party I brought them to was the guy who thought it was pizza (the room was dimly lit). Can’t wait to make these again!

  88. eliina

    Just made these for a barbeque and everyone loved them! I’ve turned several of the guests at this bbq onto your site, so they knew exactly what they were!

  89. Karen

    I made these yesterday and they were a huge hit. I halved the cherries though, and layered them significantly more, so that it was less of a domino look. I figured it would be easier for my two year old to enjoy the cherries. I served it with vanilla ice cream and it was heavenly. Thanks so much!!

  90. frances g

    i just made this with fresh blackberries and it’s un-friggin-believable! i had to pack the bars up so i wouldn’t eat them all before my husband even sees them. also, i used foil to create the tart pan effect and it peeled right off — easy breezy! thanks for posting this recipe. i’ll be trying different versions in the near future!

  91. Joy in DC

    Thanks as always for a fun recipe. I loved the ease of the crust, and its flaky and crunchy texture (I’ll need to think of how I can use this with another baked good). Like your oven, mine also seems to bake a little quicker than the time calls for. These bars remind me of Gooey Butter Cake (Ever had it? It seems to be the cake of choice in St. Louis. Paula Deen does a version using a cake mix, which I don’t love.) Since I adore cherries, I was hoping for more cherry flavor (then again, maybe my cherries weren’t the most flavorful). I wonder if almond extract would be good in this? And, I also wonder if a chocolate/cocoa version would be feasible? So many things to ponder… Thanks again!

  92. Thanks for the recipe! I had a perfect bag of cherries for this. I didn’t line them up as nicely as you – because I had spent 20 minutes pitting my bastard cherries by hand, argh! So I ran out of culinary steam there.

    Will. Get. Pitter. Can a cherry pitter also pit olives?

    Illustrative picture from my attempt:
    Cherry Brown Butter Bars - from Smitten Kitchen

  93. mia

    These are so so yummy.
    I made them as written with all sour cherries and thought they were great (I made them yesterday, note past tense :), they certainly have tang but it is a good balance I think and the guys at work devoured the amount alloted them in no time at all.

    also — I weighed my cherries in just under one pound but was solid cherries in the pan -no arranging needed! maybe they were just smaller so more little bobbles to line up? who knows but solid cherries is certainly not a bad thing!

  94. I made these today, but used self-raising flour by accident. The bad news is, they didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. he good news is, it make a delicious light, yellow sponge! I used raspberries and some homemade raspberry jam instead of all fruit!

  95. Gail

    I just made these for my daughter and her boyfriend to take to the beach tomorrow.
    They are sooooo good. Delicious and brown buttery…mmmm. I added 1/4 tsp. almond extract to accent the cherries.
    Thanks for this simple, tasty recipe.

  96. Joe

    I was a little nervous about the texture/consistency of these, looking at the photos and reading the comments. I was pleasantly surprised! The crust and filling turned out amazing! The crust has a wonderful flakiness to it. The filling has a very unusual texture, but amazing depth of flavor. The brown butter does the trick. I used 1/2 t of vanilla extract and 1/2 t of almond extract in mine, which went well with the cherries and gives it a great aroma.

    No cherry pitter here, but using the paring knife was not bad at all. I was able to pit and make the filling while the crust baked. I used 36 cherries and cut the pieces with one cherry in each piece, which worked great.

    I’m not completely sold on the use of cherries in this. They were a little too firm for my tastes. I think next time I may use blackberries, which would give you a similar size as the cherries, but not as firm.

  97. I made these one or two weeks ago. I used plums instead of cherries. They worked fine.
    And I’m quite sure sour cherries would work just as well. We here in Hungary have many sweets recipes with sour cherries, actually, it is more common to use sour cherries in sweets than sweet ones. And we don’t add an additional amount of sugar. I guess the tartness of the cherries makes the dough or batter taste even more sweet, and they somehow complement each other.
    But in making these I made the mistake of using some butter of inferior quality. It was somehow watery, and small particles separated from it, that burned, so in the end I had to sieve it before using it. Or maybe I just tried to brown it too quick, don’t know. The end result was pretty okay, though, I liked it a lot, and it was gone too soon.
    Agnes, Hungary

  98. I made these last night for the first time — boy, were they delicious. I was tempted to just eat the brown butter filling by itself, but I’m glad I held out for the finished product. These would be great for a picnic/bbq/anything that needs food to be transported because they stack nicely and aren’t messy.

  99. Melissa Deming

    Deb – Do you have any photos showing what the “brown” butter looks like. My butter had little brown bits that settled at the bottom while cooling it. Should I strain it before adding it to the filling?
    Thanks!

  100. Britni

    Hi Deb! Made this, looks nothing like yours, but tastes FANTASTIC! The brown butter really plays up a toasty note that is, well, the cherry on top ;)

  101. Courtney

    I made these last night and was met with limited success due to my total ignorance of brown butter. However, even with “dark yellow” butter, they turned out fairly tasty. After googling brown butter (uhhh – why did I not think of this before hand???) I am going to make them again tonight, I am determined!

  102. Stiffler

    i passed this recipe along to a friend who was looking for something to do with cherries. he actually made it and shared with me. it was very good – buttery and not overly sweet.

  103. Deirdre

    I finally got around to making these today with my kids. I don’t have a cherry pitter, but even the cheap little PLASTIC star tip from my 4-yr-old’s baking set worked fine for pitting the cherries. OK, they got a little bashed up but it’s not like you’re going to complain about it with a mouthful of one of these babies. Scrumptious! even with not enough vanilla (I ran out).

    I’ve been lurking here for months, but trying several of the recipes along the way. I’m smitten with you, Deb! I love everything I’ve made and you’re so fun to read.

  104. Ally

    I gave these a shot, double batch for a party. I had a pound of cherries and no cherry pitter, so I used a paring knife and pitted them like tiny peaches, cutting them in half; also, thinking that my one pound (which was just on the edge of overripe, so I threw out a good portion) wouldn’t be enough for two batches, I bought a pound of strawberries. I also added the handful of 60% cacao chips left over from the brownies I did last week–which totally worked. All the elements were delicious in themselves, but I think the baking time/temp was wrong for my oven; it was overdone and less yummy than it could have been; I’ll have to try it again differently. I actually preferred the strawberries to the sweet cherries. Brown butter is a revelation.

  105. amanda

    Oh My Gawd!!! Made them tonight with little Italian plums (the really dark purple with greenish flesh. So incredibly good. Made two pans to take to a potluck tomorrow and have a little for dessert tonight. Big test of will power not to have more than the 1 I had tonight!

  106. Sam

    I made these tonight with frozen raspberries and haven’t been able to stop eating them. The sweet brown butter, tart raspberries, and flaky crust are amazing together.

  107. gracie

    oh my this is my favorite thing… CHERRIES!! when i saw this i wanted it so bad i am hoping my mom is going to make it soon but keep dong what u do bc u have very good ideas.

  108. connie

    Hey deb-made these last night with leftover cherries from making your sweet cherry pie (with your crust, which was AMAZING. a dream to work with). These were fantastic and i dont even particularly like cherries. brought them to work and they were gone in record time. i’m going to do it up again with peaches this weekend. can’t wait! thanks as always!

    oh ps. also making the peanut butter crispy bars this weekend. those are delicious as well. and trying out the raspberry breakfast bars next week! what would i do without you?

  109. jenniegirl

    Yeah…so I entered these in the Ramsey County Fair Honey divison….yeah…substituted some honey…less competition? Well, we’ll see…gave you credit for the recipe though…no worries there!! I gave some of my testing leftovers to my mom and apparently the librarians in Rochester, MN think I’m (well, you…) am a total cooking genius…

  110. Sengkelat

    I brought this to a dinner party and everyone enjoyed it. (I wanted a more formal presentation, and lacking a tart pan I used a springform; worked nicely)
    I thought the filling was a bit ho-hum, possibly because I failed to properly brown the butter, but the slice I had the next day was so good!
    I agree with an above commenter that the crust needs to be cooked to a pale gold; I cooked mine golden brown and it burned a tiny bit before the filling was done.

  111. Julie

    I made these tonight, subbing almond extract for the vanilla, and the two bites I just had are TO. DIE. FOR. Except for one teensy thing: the crust got burnt, but the filling was just cooked correctly. Do you think this may be because I didn’t let the crust cool all the way before I added the cherries and baked?

  112. Erin

    Ok, I waited a full year for cherries to come back into season to make this. I even bought a cherry pitter months ago in anticiapation. Of course June rolled past and I almost missed cherry season this year. Oy. I managed to grab some of the last of the crop at the farmer’s market this weekend and these were well worth the wait. Yum.

  113. Mandy

    Pit cherries. Check. Bake crust. Check. Prepare filling. Check.

    But I’m not confident I’m going to get much further. Took a bite of the filling and tasted browned butter for the first time, and now I can’t stop eating spoonfuls of it. ZOMG it’s good.

  114. I made this using about two cups of sour cherries and I did not need to add any sugar! I’d love to try this with bing cherries someday, but it’s still delicious with sour ones.

  115. Lauren

    Bought a bumper crop of cherries (unintentionally) from Whole Foods, so I was searching around for something to make so they don’t go to waste. This was PERFECT. So so delicious, and easy!

  116. A year later, I made these. Again. With fresh blackberries. And whole wheat flour (accidentally only had that in the pantry). And yet again, they’re amazing. Tarts might be my new favorite dessert.

  117. Haz

    This was just gorgeous!! i used more cherries and vanilla essence instead of the extract which didnt make much of a difference than the one i did before. It is full of butter, but you know what, you live once and everyone has to make it at least once in their lifetime!!

  118. Trimbie

    I used frozen cherries and made this in a 9 inch tart tin, but would have liked it a little thicker so will try it in an 8 inch next time. It went down well with my dinner guests and tasted great – not too sweet. We polished off the left overs the following day. I think it actually tasted better the following day as the texture was a little softer. Another great and easy recipe. Thanks!

  119. Cindy

    I was just wondering, because the picture of the pre-baked version minus the brown butter differed from the final product, does the crust cover the sides as well as the bottom? Thanks, sorry if someone already asked the question, I did skim through the comments though.

  120. Nina

    I used the exact recipe above but made them individually in cupcake liners. I baked the crusts for about 15 minutes and then the filling for about 25-30 minutes. Absolutely fabulous!

  121. Danielle

    I made these today because they’ve been on my mind constantly (and I’m trying to help my thin friend during her difficult pregnancy by plying her with baked goods)…similar to your reaction to the hazelnut brown butter cake. I think cherries are so sultry, so pairing them with brown butter in an elegant bar cookie seemed so…enchanting.

    I couldn’t find fresh cherries (erm, not exactly the season) and didn’t want to make this with any other fruit, so thankfully I found some dark frozen ones, which I defrosted and drained to use in the recipe. I also replaced half the sugar in the filling with light brown sugar, omitted the vanilla (too broke to buy any worth using, figured the brown sugar would add a little of that oomph back in), and used salted butter and left out the added salt.

    My memories of making this would be so wonderful if I hadn’t spilled all the brown butter (boooooo!the kitchen table will never smell better than it does now, though) and then had to make more, but this recipe was super simple to make, even in the crappy dorm kitchen I’m using. I was sad to bake the filling because I tried it, died, went to heaven, and then licked the bowl down. It was like the best salted toffee taste ever, I wish I could just eat that.

    I’m not sure that flavor stayed around in the final product – it’s good, I have it in the fridge now and I think I’ll like it a lot more tomorrow (the corner pieces are the best, so far). But man, I miss that bowl.

    Thanks so much for a great adventure!

  122. Kathryn

    Wow, Deb, these were so good. That brown butter really gave them a dimension that I haven’t experienced before, especially in a bar cookie… although I think that term is too lowly for this dessert. I want to try this with every fruit I can make work.

    I used those yellow/pink Rainier cherries because they are so pretty to look at when they’re fresh, but I wish I had used dark red like you did… the whole thing came out looking one color. But that didn’t really matter because they were so delicious!

  123. Louise

    I want to make them in a 9 x 13 – because I need to make a lot (3 – 9 x 13 pans). Any suggestions on who to convert the 8 x 8 to a 9 x 13. My gut is to double – Deb what do you think? thanks

  124. yvonne

    looooong time sk reader and book owner and wished-i-had-gone-to-your-book-signing-when-you-were-in-town-er, but first time commenter! i made these following recipe as written a few years ago and loved them, but now that i have high cholesterol i tried to make them vegan/gluten-free. didn’t go whole hog, though, as left the eggs in, but in case anyone is wondering, replacing the flour 1:1 with gluten-free flour mix and replacing the butter with olive oil worked out great, just be sure not to over-parbake the crust!

  125. These. Are. Amazing. Bought some cherries the other day and after second-thinking my initial reaction to just shovel them all into my mouth, I remembered that I recently pinned this recipe. AND, (two birds) I’m desperately trying to get my very picky hubby to try new things…since he claims to only like maraschino cherries, this was my chance. So instead of leaving the cherries whole, I halved them when I pitted them and sprinkled a little sugar on them before layering them on the crust. They are amazing, and hubby even finished a whole piece! Lol. Definitely keeping this recipe!

  126. Elsie

    Deb – I just made this recipe! omg SO good! Love your blog! My husband and I are going to Italy in October, so we will be checking out some of your Rome suggestions!

  127. Cara Roxanne

    I couldn’t resist the cherries at the Farmer’s Market this morning and this was, without a doubt, just the cure for a surplus of cherries.

    I used a bottle and wrong end of a spoon to pit the cherries. What a delicious mess!

    The smell in the kitchen is driving us nuts. I’m going to serve the bars with bourbon pecan gelato. <3

  128. Hannah Lewis

    Hey I just made this recipe about an hour ago. The butter made these bars taste wonderful. They were delicious with vanilla ice cream. However I just want to stress the importance of watching them in the oven. I baked them for 30 minutes even though the recipe said forty and they should have come out at 20-25 minutes. They were delicious but baked way to long and the filling wasn’t as moist it became almost bread-y.However they were still quite delicious (: hope this helps somebody.

  129. Katie

    I woke up this morning literally dreaming of cherry clafoutis (summer can’t come soon enough here in Chicago!). I figured this was a good wintry compromise with the brown butter and because I had a mix of organic sweet and sour cherries in the freezer. The only change I made (aside from the frozen cherries) was to sub almond extract for the vanilla in the filling. This was perfection (as is every recipe I’ve made from this site and your cookbook). Thank you!

  130. Libby

    Hello. I made this today with just under 2 c sour cherries. As I was making it, I noticed it had some similarities to this cake from Traveler’s Lunchbox, so I decided to add half a vanilla bean to the browned butter, then I sprinkled a tablespoon of demerara sugar on top before putting it in the oven. It baked a little quicker for me–about 33-35 minutes instead of 40 for the final bake.

    The smaller sour cherries made it a little harder to cut because they fell off the edges, but wow, this is delicious! I like the mix of sweet and tart and the proportions of crust/fruit/filling were very nice. Thanks for the great recipe!

  131. Debra

    I made these today with Ranier cherries. I used almond extract and added a sprinkling (maybe 1/4 cup) of bittersweet chocolate chips. Very delicious and not overly sweet. My husband said the flavor and texture remind him of a fruit upside down cake. I will surely make this recipe again. Peaches would be very nice I think. Thank you!

  132. Denise

    Fantastic recipe! Made it last week with sweet cherries, double recipe in 9×13 pan, and had people fighting over the last piece. Made it again this week with red Santa Rosa plums and people said it was even better even though 1) I stuck it under the broiler to finish because the middle didn’t look done (I have a weird oven) and the top got burned, and 2) the plums were a bit tart. I just cut off the burnt parts and sprinkled powdered sugar over. Problems solved! I am wondering if I brown butter the crust too would that be overkill? Worth a try! Can’t wait to make this with other fruits like peaches and berries. Maybe apples too. Thanks so much for this simple but gourmet recipe!

  133. Megan

    Gorgeous! However, I would recommend anyone check the bars starting at 30 minutes of baking time. Mine were already browned and a toothpick came out clean at 30 minutes, and I fear they would have been dreadfully overdone if I waited a full 40 minutes. Although I too have a finicky apartment oven.

  134. Michele

    Cooking time problem was the opposite for me. I cooked an extra 10 minutes, and finally had to take it out because the edges were getting too brown. Unfortunately, the middle was still goo. I used thawed and drained frozen cherries, maybe that contributed. The edges were delicious, however.

  135. Maro

    I had similar issues to Michele in 208, but I used fresh cherries. I halved them, since I don’t have a pitter, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Mine had to be covered for an extra 15 minutes b;c the edges were so brown but the inside was still goopy. It also smelled really eggy at the 30 min mark, but that dissipated after more time in the oven (lower temp, covered with foil, approx 15 more mins). it was still softer than the “fudgy” texture Deb describes, but delicious! i would definitely try it again, it was a hit at the BBQ I went to, regardless. I’d like to try it with peaches.

  136. Tim

    Hi Deb–just reporting that I made this with half sweet cherries and half rhubarb without any added sugar and it was delicious. I don’t know why I waited so long to make this! Trifecta of delicious, interesting, and convenient. As a fan of salt in baked goods, I also used 1/4 teaspoon in both the crust and the filling (so 1/2 teaspoon total)–really helps the flavor come together–and added a coue of teaspoons of lemon juice to the filling. No one thought it was too sour or not sweet enough

    1. deb

      I haven’t made it with frozen but others have and it sounds like it works. You might want to bump the sugar slightly to compensate for the tartness.

  137. Brittany

    I love Smitten Kitchen and so enjoy your baked goods especially ;) Hubs has to eat gluten free (kids and I love gluten!) So I substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour blend and they turned out great. They didn’t make it to the end of the day. Wanted to share in case anyone was curious. Thank you!

  138. Mary H

    Bought a cherry pitter today – such a fun little gadget–and made these tonight. I have a brownie pan with removable bottom and it worked wonderfully. Thought I was taking these to work tomorrow but am having second thoughts– seriously good, wonderful almost not quite gooey filling- and the browned butter reminded me of Christmas baking – a nice antidote to July heat. I think the only tweak I would make is what Tim mentioned, a little salt would be a nice touch. A keeper recipe, as are so many of yours.

  139. Maro

    I think I’m going to have to try this with sour cherries — the sweet cherries just ended up kind of bland both times i made it, though the rest of the bar is so delicious.

    however, it changed my life when i made this with raspberries earlier this year — it’s now my go-to raspberry recipe. i also made them with peaches last year and they were great

  140. Ruth Bates

    I have made this twice with some modification – instead of using vanilla I used almond extract. Both times they were excellent. Such an easy recipe to make (I have a cherry pitter) and a big hit with my sailing buddies. Deb, you do know how to tweak a recipe! Thank you!