Black Forest Crumble Bars

  Black Forest Crumble Bars  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Black Forest Crumble Bars | Image: Laura Messersmith

A pure chocolate dessert is my first love, followed shortly after by treats involving chocolate and pretty much any other ingredient. Pairing semi-sweet or dark with an acidic fruit like orange, raspberry, or cranberry is one of my favorite combinations and for this bar I was inspired by classic Black Forest cake (or Schwartzwald Kirch Kuchen if you prefer the German.) This bar is essentially a sweet shortbread base layered with deep, dark cherry jam and semi-sweet chocolate – so simple to make but with impressive results.

I prefer jam or preserves - it’s easier to spread and has a little more texture than jelly – and both Polaner and Bonne Maman make wonderful versions with black cherries. I like to mix in a little fresh lemon juice to amp up the tang of the fruit and draw a sharper contrast with the sweet shortbread base. One of the best parts of this recipe is that it comes together so quickly with amazing results and 99% of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry or fridge right now.

  Black Forest Crumble Bars   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Black Forest Crumble Bars | Image: Laura Messersmith

Black Forest Crumble Bars (yield: 24 squares)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten at room temperature
12 ounces (1 package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces cherry jam, room temperature
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
Non-stick spray

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the room temperature butter and sugar before adding the egg. Mix in the flour, slivered almonds (if using), and kosher salt until the mixture forms large crumbles.

Reserve 1 cup of the crumbles and evenly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan with a rubber spatula or damp fingers.

If the cherry jam is too sweet (your call!), mix with 1 teaspoon freshly lemon juice before spreading over the bottom crust. Sprinkle the semi-sweet chocolate chips over the cherry jam and then top with the reserved shortbread crumbles.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the jam and chocolate are bubbling and the crumbles are golden brown.

Cool completely in the pan before slicing into bars and serving.

Inspired by and adapted from Hershey’s Holiday Red Raspberry Chocolate Bars.

  Black Forest Crumble Bars   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Black Forest Crumble Bars | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, 100%! You’ll need one large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, a large spoon, and a 9x13 inch glass baking pan. I cut the recipe in half and used an 8x8 inch glass pan instead, but everything else is the same.

The Verdict:
Cherry, chocolate, and almond are a match made in heaven. I love the combination of the tart fruit flavor with the richness of the buttery crumble and sweet, but not too sweet chocolate. Besides being ridiculously good they also come together quickly with very little fuss and minimal ingredients – good news when you want a dessert sure to please, but don’t have a lot of time. Please make these, you won’t be sorry!

  Black Forest Crumble Bars   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Black Forest Crumble Bars | Image: Laura Messersmith