Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cream Cheese Apple-Cherry Streusel Bars...

While one part of me is loving the heat we've been having lately, the other is not all that accustomed to the degree of humidity that reigns here in the south every. single. day. We did, of course, have these days in Minnesota, but I don't think it happened this early and often. With the cooling thoughts of fall scurrying around my mind, I thought these Cream Cheese Apple-Cherry Streusel Bars might be just the ticket to make this week's Wednesday Treat Day a sweet success.

To juice up the dried fruit used in these bars, we soaked the apples and sour cherries in a liquored concoction of brandy and zesty fresh lemon juice. They will need a good half hour or so for the liquid to soak in, plumping up the fruit, but since there are several steps to get these bars baked, you won't need to worry about starting this ahead of time. If you don't fancy having the dried fruit drink up a few tablespoons of booze, feel free to switch out the brandy for an equal amount of apple juice.

You'll be making quite a big bowl of the streusel topping, but it all won't end up on top - a portion is reserved and chilled, while the rest of the crumbly mixture is scooped into a large baking pan and pressed down to form a crust. Briefly set into the refrigerator to firm up the dough, the crust is then baked, naked, until it turns from pale to lightly golden.

While the crust cools, a basic cheesecake-like filling is made by beating together cream cheese and sugar, along with an egg and a pleasant shot of vanilla. Keep the egg out of the mix until the cream cheese has smoothed out and married with the sugar, then toss in the egg, beating it in as minimally as possible, until evenly distributed. You don't even have to dirty another bowl to prepare this, just use the same one that the crust was made in. Spread over the blonde base, the buzzed apples and cherries are scattered over the barely sweetened filling, followed by the rest of the streusel crumbles that had been kept in the refrigerator.

There will be fair amount of downtime once the bars come out of the oven - besides letting them cool completely, they'll need to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the filling to completely set. Slightly annoying (who wants to wait?!), yes, but this does make cutting them into tidy, clean bars a snap and allows extra time for the more delicate flavors to permeate throughout.

With their shortbread cookie-like base, these colorful rectangles can be eaten with a fork, but the crust is sturdy enough that one could just as well use their fingers to bring it up to their mouth, without worry that the bar would fall apart into a mess. Both of us went with the second option (less dishes later!) to give these a test and we were definitely not disappointed! The soft apples and chewy cherries popped with brightness, while the smooth filing set a creamy tone to contrast the ample amount of buttery, golden nuggets strewn over each bar. They do have a fall-time essence to them, but they are certainly appropriate anytime of the year... especially as an edible way to cool down during this steamy summertime!


  1. Just the name "cream cheese apple-cherry streusel bar" got me drooling. Thanks for the recipe. I'll try to impress with it at a potluck coming up :)

  2. Oh wow....the diet will have to go by the way-side for a day so we can try these....they look and sound delicious...thanks for sharing. :o)

  3. DC - Let us know how they turn out!

    AD - You can still have these on your diet, maybe just cut them a bit smaller? Everything in moderation!

  4. Welcome to the south! Early? Heat and humidity generally start in April, and last through October. The upside is the lengthened growing season. You'll love gardening in your new place.

    I'm sure Gus feels the heat too. It's easy for dogs to overheat, especially short-legged dogs walking on hot pavement; the heat gets them from both directions.

    This recipe looks great! I'm thinking blueberries would be good in these too. I'm definitely copying it to try later. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Yum. Definitely worth firing up the oven for.

  6. Sobaka - Yes, but even the weather people have said this is a bit out of the ordinary! It is supposed to cool down this weekend though.

    Kelly - I agree!

  7. Could you use fresh fruit with these? I like the idea of blueberries as Sobaka said - these look so good - I like anything with Streusel on it! :)

  8. Just baked a batch of these last night...they were excellent right out of the oven and even better this morning! I used fresh rainier cherries and I have to say, this is one of the best recipes I've tested in a while! :) Thanks again!

  9. Debzy - Good question! I'm not sure if they would add too much moisture or not - though, see below, as it sounds as if some kinds of fresh fruit might work!

    Anon - Fantastic! I'm glad to hear that they do work with fresh cherries!