My post today is marginally hypocritical. Last Friday I shunned the idea of whole cherries in clafoutis, and here I am, not even a week later, featuring cherry shortbread squares. And, absolutely loving the taste of the cherries to boot! To be fair, this recipe actually called for canned cherry pie filling, so I don’t feel too bad about dismissing fresh cherries.
The recipe suggested putting a scoop of the filling with three cherries in each square, but I thought it would overflow, so I only put two. Alas, no overflowing occurred, and my squares really could’ve used the extra cherry because they’re a bit dry when no baked cherry makes it into your bite.
Cherry-Vanilla Shortbread Cake Squares from Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
4 lg. eggs, room temperature
2 c. AP flour
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 12x17x1 inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and lightly spracy the parchment, too.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar about two minutes. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Turn mixture to the lowest speed and stir in flour. To avoid overbeating, stop mixing when a few streaks of flour remain in the batter; stir by hand until no flour remains.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Score it into 24 squares with a toothpick.
4. In a small bowl, stir pie filling and vanilla bean paste. Place 3 cherries in the center of each square. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, cut shortbread into 24 squares and dust with powdered sugar.
Makes 2 dozen 3-inch squares