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Rich Cherry Dairy Bars

I was trying to figure out how to create cookies that would play off tart sour cherries against a rich filling, like a cherry-cream cheese pie.  Please make these for a crowd, unless your arteries really need hardening. 

Jelly roll pan or 1/2 sheet pan, about 12x18 inches         Oven 350 degrees F       Time 35-40 minutes

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup sugar

 3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk powder plus 1 cup milk
OR 1 cup buttermilk OR 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup yogurt

Mill together:
  400 grams  soft wheat
  1/4 teaspoon cardamom pods
  1/2 teaspoon mahleb seeds
  4 inches vanilla bean

OR substitute:

    2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
    2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
    1 teaspoon ground mahleb OR 1 teaspoon almond extract
   1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried sour cherries
1 cup toasted pine nuts

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the sugar until well mixed, then beat in the eggs.  When well mixed, beat in the milk/buttermilk/yogurt/sour cream.  If using vanilla and almond extracts, beat them in here.    

Whisk all the dry ingredients together (including buttermilk powder, if using), then stir into wet;  add the cherries and pine nuts and stir just until mixed. 

Spread the batter into the greased pan and add to preheated oven.  

Bake 35-40 minutes, until top is just golden brown.  Remove pan to cooling rack. 

Cut into squares or rectangles as you prefer--I think even 2 inch by 2 inch bars are rather large, for the richness of the recipe, but the 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch bars I cut them into seemed to be eaten 2-4 at a time, so perhaps larger is more realistic. 

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