2tablespoonscornstarchincrease to 3 scant tablespoons if using frozen cherries
4cupspitted sweet cherriesfresh or frozen (1-pound bag of frozen works well here)
Crust and topping;
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9 square pan with foil (leaving overhang on two sides) and grease the foil. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, almond paste, and almond extract. Blend on medium-low speed until the butter and almond paste pieces are the size of small pebbles, and the mixture resembles wet sand. Remove 1 heaping cup for the topping, set it aside.
Pour the remaining mixture into the prepared pan and press it evenly over the bottom. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
In a medium saucepan, whisk water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Add cherries, sugar, butter, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Spread filling over crust. Stir sliced almonds into the reserved topping mixture, then sprinkle the topping over the cherry filling, occasionally pinching the topping together to form small clumps.
Bake until the filling is beginning to bubble and the topping is light brown, about 25-30 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
Whisk all icing ingredients, adding more milk or powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bars (I place my icing in a ziptop bag, snip off the corner, and drizzle the icing straight from the bag).
*Crumble the almond paste into a measuring cup and lightly pack it in.After cooling to room temperature I like to transfer the pan of bars to the refrigerator before cutting. You can easily lift the whole pan of bars out of the pan using the foil overhang. This easier to do when they are cold. I recommend storing these in the refrigerator. Adapted from Cuisine at Home Cookie magazine.