I found this recipe in a magazine some time ago. The original recipe called for canned cherry pie filling, but I preferred to make my own pie filling. These bars have a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-like crust coupled with a wonderful pecan crumb topping. My husband absolutely loved these, I hope you do too!
CHERRY PIE FILLING: Drain cherries reserving 1 cup of the juice, set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add cherry juice and stir. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.
Remove from heat and gently fold in cherries, butter, 1/2 cup sugar. almond extract, and food coloring. Set aside.
CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 X 9 inch pan with heavy duty aluminum foil allowing two or three inches to extend over the sides. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
Put flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse two or three times until combined. Add butter cubes and pulse a few times until mixture is crumbly. NOTE: If you don't have a food processor, you can cut in with a knife or pastry cutter in the usual pastry method.
Reserve one cup of the flour mixture and press remaining flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and spread cherry pie filling over crust. Mix remaining one cup of flour mixture with chopped pecans and sprinkle over the top of the pie filling. Return to oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least one hour. Lift bars from pan using foil sides as handles. Gently pull down the foil sides and drizzle with glaze (recipe to follow). Cut into bars and serve.
GLAZE: Mix powdered sugar, milk and flavoring in a small bowl until smooth and no lumps. If glaze seems too thick, you may add a little more milk until desired constancy is reached. Drizzle over cookie bars.