Layered Cherry Basque Bars

A loving tribute to the French gâteau Basque, these bars offer all the exquisite pleasures of the original with that custard powder twist.

Layered Cherry Basque Bars
 
Makes 9 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons (374 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), divided
  • 3 large egg yolks (56 grams)
  • 3¾ cups (469 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt
  • Drunken Cherries (recipe follows)
  • Custard Filling (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add 2 eggs (100 grams) and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Turn out dough, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray with flour. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
  4. On a heavily floured surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut a 9-inch square from dough. Gently transfer to prepared pan. (It will be a tight fit.) Cut 4 (9×2½-inch) rectangles from dough, and place widthwise on sides of prepared pan. Press dough together in corners to seal. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Reroll remaining dough to ¼-inch thickness, and cut a 9-inch square from dough. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  7. In prepared crust, place Drunken Cherries in a single layer. Spoon Custard Filling on top of cherries, smoothing flat. Tap pan on a kitchen towel-lined counter 3 times to release air bubbles. Using a paring knife, trim dough to ⅛ inch above Custard Filling.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Brush top of dough in pan with egg wash. Place 9-inch square on top, gently pressing flat onto filling and around edges to seal. Brush dough with egg wash.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C), and bake until top is deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in top (but not in filling) comes out clean, about 30 minutes more, covering with foil after 20 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight. Just before serving, garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Drunken Cherries
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) cherry liqueur*
  • 2 tablespoons (6 grams) orange zest
  • 3 cups (420 grams) fresh or frozen sweet dark cherries, pitted
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat sugar, liqueur, and orange zest over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Add cherries, and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl; Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  2. Strain cherries through a fine-mesh sieve, and roughly chop.
Notes
*We used Luxardo.

 

Custard Filling
 
Ingredients
  • 5 cups (1,200 grams) whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup (65 grams) custard powder
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cup (120 grams) milk and custard powder until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, salt, vanilla bean paste, and remaining 4½ cups (1,080 grams) milk over medium heat until steaming. (Do not boil.) Slowly whisk hot sugar mixture into custard powder mixture. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and gently boils, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour into a medium heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let stand until completely cool, about 1 hour. Whisk thoroughly before using.

 

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