Cherry Lemon Bars

Our local farmer’s market debuted this season’s first cherry harvest last week, and I couldn’t help but indulge. I say indulge because this is the first time seeing cherries since being back from China, where they were extremely expensive (about $15-$20 a bag) so I only purchased them as a special treat from time to time. It’s funny how culture shock — or in this case, reverse culture shock — sometimes isn’t some epic thunderbolt, blindsiding you all at once as the term, at least to me, implies. Of course sometimes, especially when you’ve first arrived (or returned) to a place, that’s exactly what it feels like. However, I’m discovering that the more nuanced and amusing effects of culture shock can happen long after replanting in a new land. For us a lot of the changes have been most evident when watching commercials, as we rarely saw any in China (what is this “DAAAHHBLE CHECK!” thing again??). But even a year after being in the States, I am still pleasantly surprised by these little culture ‘tremors’ that glimmer in my day. And so I “indulged” in cherries.

With said cherries, I decided to try out one of Joy the Baker’s latest seasonal concoctions (she’s an excellent cook, by the way, and worth following), and of course it was fantastic! I needed to use up some items in the kitchen before we move (I would hate to have to throw away perfectly good butter!) so this recipe allowed for just that. I therefore modified it a bit to include some items in the pantry…namely whole wheat flour, coconut sugar and coconut yogurt (which surprisingly didn’t affect the flavor…not a hint of coconut to be tasted!). I also reduced the sugar a bit in the crust.

Original recipe by Joy the Baker.

Yield: 1 9×9 inch pan

Ease of Preparation: Easy


For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats

For the filling:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purposed flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt
  • 2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and cut in half

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (so that it over hangs slightly from the pan).  Set aside.

To make the crust, in a medium bowl combine butter, powdered sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest.  Use your fingers to work the mixture into a shaggy dough.  Big bits of butter will remain and the flour won’t be entirely incorporated  That’s perfect.  Separate 1/2 cup of the shaggy dough and place it in a small bowl and add the oats.  Work the oats into the mixture to create a crumble.  Set aside.

With the remaining dough, continue to work the dough until it forms a homogenous ball.  Place the dough in large chunks in the prepared pan.  Press the dough across the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Bake the dough for 12 to 15 minutes until browned around the edges.  While the crust bakes, assemble the filling.

To make the filling, in a medium bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, yogurt, and salt.  Whisk until smooth and well incorporated.

Once crust is baked, place cherries across the surface of the crust and slowly pour the lemon filling over the cherries.   Sprinkle the oat topping over the filling.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set through.  It’s ready when the pan gives a slight jiggle.

Cool to room temperature before slicing.  Store the bars, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.



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