Cherry-Vanilla Streusel Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 16

Vanilla and cherries make a great pairing—the sweetness of the vanilla balances the tartness of the fruit. In this easy recipe, the crumble mixture does double duty, forming both the crisp crust and the crunchy topping for the bars. It’s a perfect dessert for casual springtime gatherings and makes a great after-school snack for the kids. If you’ve never worked with vanilla beans, they’re really quite simple to prep: just slice the pod lengthwise with a paring knife, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the seeds, which are added to the filling.

Ingredients:

For the crust and crumble:

  • 2 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz./275 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (3 3/4 oz./115 g) rolled oats
  • 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) (8 oz./250 g) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


For the cherry-vanilla filling:

  • 3 cups (about 1 lb./500 g) pitted fresh cherries or thawed frozen cherries, halved and drained
  • 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
 
To make the crust and crumble, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the melted butter and stir until no dry streaks remain and the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and refrigerate the remaining mixture.

Bake until the crust is lightly puffed and golden, about 15 minutes (start checking after 10 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the cherries, vanilla bean seeds, granulated sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice until combined.
 
Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust, then sprinkle with the remaining crumble mixture. Bake until the crumble topping is golden and the cherries have released their juices, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Cut into 16 bars, each 2 inches (5 cm) square. Makes 16 bars.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen