cherry-berry bars with brown butter & thyme

posted in: baking, Featured, recipes | 3

About a year ago, there was a picture-less post that popped up on this site about berry thyme brown butter bars. These bars have become one of my most commonly made recipes, something I keep going back to. But never did I manage to snap a good picture of them. Glancing back at the recipe I posted, in a rush to share while the fruit was ripe for the baking, I’m a little embarrassed. I missed ingredients, my directions were a bit shoddy.

So I’m righting my wrongs and giving you a much better recipe and post for these beauties. Since discovering this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, each summer gets multiple pans of these bars. Blackberries, raspberries and the pictured cherries all make a terribly delicious bite.

The bars are custard-based, with the savory edge of brown butter making a strong statement. The crust is a shortbread style, also using brown butter and a touch of thyme. If you’ve experienced a dessert or cocktail using thyme or other herbs, you know that little something that it adds to each bite or sip. If you’ve never used thyme in dessert, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Just in the past few weeks, I made these bars for two separate events. KitchenSurfing graciously hosted me in their gorgeous kitchen for lunch and cherry-studded bars made their appearance. [If you’d like to check out their post about the lunch as they waxed poetically about dessert, it’s over here.] Raspberry-blackberry bars showed up at the Zokos + City Harvest potluck, and they were just as addictive, if slightly less photogenic. Using the same weight but different size of fruit makes for a more crowded pan.

Just to keep going on with my fruit love, I have imagined these bars with plums or apricots as well. It’s difficult not to fall head over heels with this recipe.

cherry-berry bars with brown butter & thyme

Yield: 16 2" square bars or 32 2x1" bars

If you've never browned butter before, Simply Recipes has a wonderful photo how-to that I recommend. You can brown all of the butter at one time and divide between crust and filling. Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen


    for the crust:
  • 7 tablespoons browned butter
  • 1/3 cup, 67 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon, 128 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • for the filling:
  • 1/2 cup, 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup, 30 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup, 1 stick browned butter
  • 12 ounces berries or pitted cherries [which is about 1lb unpitted cherries]


    make the crust:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8" square pan with two rectangles of parchment paper, creating a lining for easy removal and slicing later.
  2. Using a spatula or fork, mix browned butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl or the pan you browned your butter in [a trick learned from Deb at SK]. Add flour, thyme and salt and mix until incorporated.
  3. Transfer the dough into your pan and spread into a thin layer, covering the entire bottom of the pan. It may take some manipulating but it will cover the bottom of the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let the pan hang out on a cooling rack until ready for the next step.
  4. make the filling:
  5. You can start this process while the crust is baking. Whisk sugar, eggs and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the browned butter, whisking until fully combined. [Don't forget to scrape in the browned butter bits!]
  6. Arrange the fruit in your pan - the cherries will go in orderly but the berries may seem like a messy fit. Pour the egg mixture over the fruit, carefully letting the custard cover all parts of the crust. Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until a toothpick removes cleanly. The bars will look puffed and golden on top. Let the bars cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting. Serve room temperature or chilled.

3 Responses

  1. […] – July 2012: Hey! If you’ve just found this post, please check out my newer version of this recipe. It’s a much better representation of these bars. Between recovering from a fantastic […]

  2. I can attest to the deliciousness of these bars!! 🙂

  3. I, for one, am very very glad that you put up a picture of these beauties. I bookmarked them to make as soon as the berries and cherries start rolling into the farmers markets. Gorgeous (and who doesn’t love brown butter?!)

    (also yay that you know Tara!)

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