I had decided that I had posted enough recipes for sweets for a while.

Then I found out that January is Hot Tea Month.

Why January? Who knows? I tried to figure out who decided that January is Hot Tea Month, and I couldn’t find anything. But it doesn’t really matter. For me, every month is hot tea month.

Of course, I live in the Pacific Northwest, where our weather is cool and damp most of the year. Cool, damp weather is perfect for a cup of hot tea.

When the weather is hot and dry (it does get that way here occasionally in the late summer), I’d rather have a glass of sweet iced tea. But not first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning, I always want a cup of hot tea.

And cherry tea bars are just the thing to go with it.

Cherry Tea Bars

Filling Ingredients

3 cups dried tart cherries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups strong black tea

Crust Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, then line the pan with parchment paper.

Mix all of the crust ingredients except the coconut in a food processor. Process until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse corn meal.

Measure out 1 1/4 cups of the mixture into a small bowl, stir in the coconut, and set it aside. You’ll use this mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining crust mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove it from the oven.

While the crust is baking, mix the filling ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the cherries are soft and the mixture is thick.

Spread the warm crust with the filling. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.

Return the pan to the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Cut into squares after they’ve cooled completely.

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Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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