Andy Hilton’s Blue Ribbon Cherry Bars

For the shortbread crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chilled butter

For the cherry filling:

  • 3 cups frozen sour cherries
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

For the frosting drizzle:

  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • Water, as needed

To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl, and cut in the butter until you’ve formed pieces the size of small peas. Press the dough onto the bottom of a half-sheet baking pan (18 by 13 inches).

Bake 12 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To make filling: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and, stirring periodically without breaking up the fruit, cook about 35 minutes, until the cherries thaw and are well combined with the other ingredients.

Pour and spread warm filling over cooled crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

To make drizzle: Combine all ingredients, adding just enough water to make mixture a runny consistency. Let bars cool, and then drizzle mixture from a spoon over the cherry filling.

Makes about five dozen squares.

This recipe, from the 2015 Winners’ Recipes Cookbook, has been edited for completeness and clarity.

Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley is a longtime Florida journalist covering the local food and gardening scene. With a master’s degree in agricultural journalism, she served as food editor of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel for over 20 years. Today, she is a certified “master gardener.”