Cherry Almond Breakfast Bars
I’ve been wanting to make some sort of fruity breakfast bar that could actually pass as part of a balanced breakfast…as opposed to, you know, a dessert hiding beneath a few oats. To make matters even better, I recently came into a few bags of beautifully frozen sweet red cherries and have been itching to do something yummy with them. Though March is just around the corner, cherry season is still a ways off and I’m definitely missing summer fruit.
So here’s what I came up with. The base is a lightly sweetened oat crust that’s quickly made in the food processor and then baked solo while you whip up the cherry filling. Just toss a few easy ingredients together and you’re practically done. Dump the filling on your crust, top with some more oat crumb and sliced almonds, and then back in the oven. Though these take about an hour to make–start to finish–there’s really nothing fussy about them. The crust is actually an adaptation of a recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking; inspired by their Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bar, I set to work tweaking the ingredients and swapping out the filling until I came up with the rendition you’ll find below.
The frozen cherries worked really well in this recipe. I simply let them thaw and then got out my handy cherry stoner to remove all the pits. If you buy frozen pitted cherries from the store, you’ll just save yourself that much more time. One thing I did notice is that as the cherries thawed, they leaked quite a bit of juice. I was nervous about all this juiciness creating a sloppy mess of my bars, so I did pour off some of the juice before tossing with my other filling ingredients, which seemed to work out just fine. I used the 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, which also seemed to be a good amount. So, whether you use fresh or thawed cherries, chop them up and then assess your juice situation. If, like me, you feel nervous about a potentially soggy situation, feel free to follow suit.
Cherry Almond Breakfast Bars
for the crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups oats
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) cold butter, diced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
for the cherry filling:
3 cups sweet red cherries, pitted and chopped
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spritz a 9×13 rimmed baking dish with cooking spray and line with parchment. (To make bar removal easier later on, let the parchment hang over two of the sides.) Set aside.
To make the oat crust, add the flour, oats, ¾ cup dark brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon cloves to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter to the bowl and pulse with quick bursts until the mixture resembles wet sand. Scoop out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Pour the rest into your prepared dish and use your hands to press the crumbs into an even layer. Pop your crust into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
While the crust is baking, get on with making the cherry filling. Combine the chopped cherries, cornstarch, lemon juice, ¼ cup dark brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, dash of cloves, and almond extract in a medium-sized bowl and fold with a rubber spatula. (If your cherries seem particularly juicy, use the greater amount of cornstarch. Otherwise, use 2 tablespoons.)
Once your crust has cooled, spread the cherry mixture over the top as evenly as possible. Top this with the reserved 1 cup of oat crumb and sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Pop your dish back into the oven, baking for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the almonds are toasted, and the cherry filling is bubbling about the edges. Cool completely and then slice into 24 bars. The bars may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Nutrition information per serving (1 bar): 135 calories, 6 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein