Pies and Tarts

PPQ: Cherry Pie Bars

by Shawnda on July 17, 2012

in Cherries,Cookies and Bars,Pies and Tarts,Project Pastry Queen

Cherry Pie Bars

I was super excited to see the recipe that Amanda selected for this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge: Blackberry Pie Bars.

Redemption. Sweet, cherry-studded redemption.

Because the last time I made them, I totally bonked the recipe. Hard. There would be no bonking this time!

I made a few changes this go ’round:
– I actually read the recipe before getting started. Knowledge is power, people.
– I made half the recipe in an 8×8 pan with halved fresh cherries.
– I reduced the sugar by 1/3 and used fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
– I only reduced the almond extract by 25% from the full recipe. Because almond extract is magical, especially when paired with cherries.

The shortbread crust makes these bars a cookie-cobbler-pie hybrid. The almond extract and cherry-studded middle layer is a glass of milk away from heaven. The best part? No forks required. So grab a bag of cherries while you still can and give this one ago!



Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Just in time for Valentine’s Day the Super Bowl lunch.

This week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge was selected by Amanda of Homekeeping Adventures: Silken Chocolate Walnut Tart. As written, it’s a rich chocolate tart with a layer of walnuts hidden inside.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

I eliminated the walnuts and replaced the recommended rum and a couple tablespoons of the heavy cream with raspberry liqueur. And then served it with fresh raspberries and sweetened whipped cream.

It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. An intensely beautiful and beautifully intense chocolate tart that was closer in texture to a dense fudgey brownie than a flourless chocolate cake… inside a pie crust.

My 9.5-inch tart pan is smaller than the recommended 10-inch pan so I only made 2/3 of the filling – it was exactly the perfect amount.

It’s totally the rockstar indulgent dessert that you serve at the end of a light lunch to make up for all of the calories that you just didn’t eat.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Head over to Homekeeping Adventures to get the full recipe. And check out how the other PPQ members’ baked up their tarts.



Southern Comfort Apple Pie

That right there – that’s going to be my contribution to Thanksgiving this year.

If you follow any of the other Project Pastry Queen members’ blogs (and you totally should), you’ve probably read high praise about this week’s recipe: Southern Comfort Apple Pie, chosen by Sarah of 20-Something Cupcakes. I will echo the praise: this is the best apple pie I’ve ever eaten.

In short, it’s an apple pie with a streusel topping. But calling it just an apple pie doesn’t do it any justice. The filling consists of apples and a dreamy cinnamon-caramel sauce made with cinnamon, sugar, butter, cream, and Southern Comfort. Yeah, that Southern Comfort. It’s sandwiched between my favorite pie crust recipe and a pecan streusel that’s so good you could eat it cold. But you won’t… because that would be weird.

Southern Comfort Apple Pie

I made the recipe as written, except I didn’t toast the pecans in the streusel (the pie bakes for an hour, I figured the pecans would burn) and I added a generous pinch of sea salt to the filling while it cooked. I used 6 apples that weighed 9-10 oz each before peeling and coring (3 honey crisp, 3 granny smith).

Southern Comfort Apple Pie

An apple pie with a whiskey-caramel-cinnamon filling. Hands-down, the very best apple pie I've ever eaten.


  • 1 pie crust, or make your own (this is my favorite recipe)
  • For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup (11 Tbsp) chilled butter
  • 4-6 Tbsp ice cold water, possibly more
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tbsp) chilled butter
  • For the filling:
  • 6 medium apples (I used 3 honeycrisp and 3 granny smith, weighing 9-10 oz each before peeling and coring)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Southern Comfort (or Bourbon or Jack - I've used it all)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt,
  2. Add the cubed butter (I cut into quarters lengthwise and then make small cubes) to the bowl, toss to coat, and then cut the butter into the flour until the butter cubes are about the size of small peas. You can use a pastry cutter or two knives. I use my fingers - it's a workout!
  3. Add 4 Tbsp of the cold water and stir with a spoon at first, and then use your hands to fold the dough a few times to create one large ball - add the additional water 1 Tbsp at a time until it holds together (your liquid usage will vary).
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. In a bowl (or food processor), combine the topping ingredients: both sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour and mix. Cut in the butter (by hand or machine) until crumbly and stir in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  8. Melt the butter for the filling in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute teh apples for 5-8 minutes.
  9. Transfer the apples to a plate leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible.
  10. Add the sugar, cinnamon (and a pinch of salt, if using), and whiskey to the skillet, simmering for at least 5 minutes until much of the alcohol burns off.
  11. Add the cream and cook another 5-10 minutes more, until it is thick as pourable caramel.
  12. Return the apples to the skillet and stir to coat.
  13. Roll out the pie dough onto a lightly floured surface and then transfer it to a deep dish pie plate, crimping the edges.
  14. Pour the filling into the pie plate, sprinkle the streusel topping over, and put in the oven on a baking sheet for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping has browned.
  15. Serve warm or room temperature.


Yields: 8 servings

Source: The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes



Peach Cobbler

I am super excited about this week’s selection for Project Pastry Queen: Hill Country Peach Cobbler, chosen by Josie. Peach cobbler is one my very favorite desserts, topped with a melty scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

This is one of my very favorite recipes in the entire cookbook. The browned butter adds a wonderful layer of flavor to the filling and biscuits. Back when I made this the first time, I thought that it was far too sweet. During peach season, ripe peaches are plenty sweet enough to carry a dish like this!

So we:
– Cut the sugar in half so the fantastically sweet peaches could shine through.
– Substituted whole wheat flour for half of the white.
– Whisked 2 Tbsp of bourbon into the butter before putting the batter down.
– Added ~1 tsp of cinnamon to the cobbler batter.
– Instead of using 1/2 cup packed brown sugar for the topping, I just sprinkled 2 Tbsp over top.

Head over to Pink Parsley to get the full recipe. And check out the other members’ take on peach cobbler:
Pink Parsley
Smells Like Home
I Heart Yummy
20something Cupcakes