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Chocolate-Cherry Crumb Bars

The flavor of these dense bars is reminiscent of Black Forest cake, a classic German dessert that originated in the country's southern Black Forest region, renowned for its sour cherries and kirsch (cherry brandy).

  • Yield: Makes 9 large or 1 dozen small
Chocolate-Cherry Crumb Bars

Source: Martha Stewart Living Special Issues, 2005


  • 1 1/4 cups dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks), all but 2 tablespoons cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (about 3 ounces), lightly toasted
  • 2 cups plus 7 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Coat with cooking spray.

  2. Bring cherries, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and the water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.

  3. Whisk together cocoa powder, salt, brown sugar, toasted coconut, and 2 cups flour in a bowl. Blend in remaining 2 1/4 sticks butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal; press 3 lightly packed cups cocoa mixture into prepared pan. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes.

  4. Put egg, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the kirsch, if using, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Fold in cherry mixture and remaining 7 1/2 teaspoons flour; stir in chocolate. Spread mixture evenly over crust; sprinkle with remaining cocoa mixture.

  5. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Run a knife around sides; lift out of pan. Cut into squares. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.


Reviews (10)

  • Melindalou7 28 Jan, 2014

    These were great! Yes, there's a lot of butter and yes, there's some work involved but it's not like making a layer cake and if you want a low fat recipe make something else. Essentially this tasted like a chocolate cookie with a chocolate-covered cherry filling. The chocolate chips and cherries combined to make a really great filling and I didn't have a problem with dryness-the top is crumbly, which is how it is supposed to be, and the bottom was moist and solid. Great bar!

  • 2amar 2 Jun, 2010

    i made these and they were great the only thing i may change is to remove the coconut and use less butter

  • scorpiodoesitbest 26 Dec, 2009

    This recipe was extremely disappointing. A lot of work for a very poor result. The top layer was too dry and we were careful to follow the recipe. I cannot imagine that Martha Stewart actually tried these. Thumbs Down.

  • sltx 9 Dec, 2009

    These weren't that great. They turned out a little dry, but I blame myself for not being able to tell when they are done because of the dark color. Not very chocolatey, not very cherry-y, I won't make them again. Sorry Martha.

  • emwash 7 Sep, 2009

    These were a little time consuming, but turned out great. Everyone at work loved them. I would definitely make again. The only change I made was to use regular, salted, butter instead of unsalted as I didn't have any unsalted. Didn't seem to make much difference as I got lots of raves.

  • cinnamonsue 31 Aug, 2009

    Has anyone tried this with less butter or a butter substitute like Smart balance?

  • Rnacookin 28 Aug, 2009

    Have you ever noticed that Martha's recipes have a TON of butter!

  • ambschri 28 Aug, 2009

    The amount of salt called for in the recipe seems to have been corrected.

  • lprice 27 Aug, 2009

    i made these and they were disgusting due to the salt quantity provided. I even used less than half of what it says. still was waaayyyyyyy too much. 1 teaspoon sounds much better.

  • marisha71 27 Aug, 2009

    I checked the book - it's 1 teaspoon of salt :)

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