Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cream Cheese Apple-Cherry Streusel Bars

Cream Cheese Apple-Cherry Streusel Bars (Adapted from Canadian Living)

For the dried fruit

3/4 cup dried apples, chopped
3/4 cup dried sour cherries
3 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the streusel base and topping

16 tablespoons (2 sticks or 1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare dried fruit

In a small bowl, toss together apples cherries, brandy and lemon juice - set aside and let stand until liquid has been absorbed, about 30 to 45 minutes.

To prepare streusel

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and salt until creamy. Add flour and mix just until combined. Scoop out about 1 1/4 cups of the streusel mixture and place in a bowl - cover and set into the refrigerator. Scoop remaining mixture into 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick spray and press down to form a level crust. Place into the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove baking pan from the refrigerator and prick crust all over with a fork. Place into the oven and bake until lightly golden, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool.

To prepare filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until very smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over the crust and spread smooth with an offset spatula. Scatter the fruit mixture evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the reserved streusel mixture.

Place pan into the oven and bake until the top is lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Place into the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 1 hour, before cutting into bars.

Makes about 24 bars.

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