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Apple Cherry Oat Bars

So, the New Year is well underway and so many people I know are keen to eat healthy.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

I have nothing against eating a well balanced diet that incorporates healthy ingredients and cooking techniques with occasional indulgences thrown in to keep cravings in check.  In fact, that is how I try to live my life everyday (with various levels of success … damn you bacon!).  What I don’t like are those who think they can start a new year by eating only plain oatmeal, steamed fish, and salads.  They start the year bragging about how healthy they are, but they can’t  keep that kind of discipline up for longer than a week or two.  Honestly, if you do this to yourself you ultimately come to know that you are setting yourself up for failure.  Big time.  I know, I used to fall into the ‘OMG it’s a new year and I am going to be SO healthy THIS TIME’ trap.  It never works unless you embrace moderation in all things.  Some foods more moderately than others, but I digress.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

So, with healthy resolutions in mind I went in the complete opposite direction with these bars.  I am not trying to tempt you into culinary sin … or maybe I am.  These bars are three layers of buttery, moist evil!  The first layer, the base, is a cross between a cake and a cookie.  It is sturdy, yet tender, and it is the perfect canvas for the goodies on top!   Next up is a layer of tender cooked apples and dried tart cherries cooked in butter and finished with a little cream.  Finally, the topping is an oat crumble that tastes a lot like a cinnamon scented oatmeal cookie.  These bars are utterly irresistible, and they kind of feel like they might be a little, itty-bit healthy.   Apples and oats are healthy, and balance out the cream and butter … right?

Apple Cherry Oat Bars   Yield 16

For the filling:
2 tablespoons butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the base:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat the oven to 350F.  Spray an 8×8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper, making sure there is at least a 3-inch overhang on either side to help remove the bars once they cool, then spray the paper with non-stick spray.

Apple Cherry Oat BarsApple Cherry Oat Bars

Begin by making the filling.  In a medium skillet over medium heat add the butter.  Once the butter foams add the apples, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.  Mix well and cook until the apples are very juicy and bubbling, about 3 minutes.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Add the dried cherries and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the juices are very thick and the apples are tender, about 8 minutes.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Once the mixture is thick reduce the heat to low.  Combine the cornstarch with the water and add it to the apples.  Increase the heat to medium low and cook until the mixture is very thick.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream.  Stir to combine then set aside to cool.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Next, prepare the base.  In the work bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, add the sugar, brown sugar, flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to evenly combine the dry ingredients.  Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat until the mixture forms a thick batter.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Third, prepare the topping.  In a separate bowl combine the butter, sugar, flour, almond flour, oats, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Mix, or rub together with your fingers, until the mixture is crumbly and well combined.  Refrigerate this mixture for 10 minutes.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars Apple Cherry Oat BarsApple Cherry Oat Bars

To assemble begin by spreading the base evenly into the prepared pan.  Next, spread the apple mixture evenly over the base.  finally, evenly distribute the crumble over the top.

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the bars are deeply golden brown on top and slightly puffed.  Cool completely in the pan then carefully use the parchment to remove the bars from the pan.  Cut into 16 squares.

 

 

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

Enjoy!

Apple Cherry Oat Bars

 

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14 Responses to “Apple Cherry Oat Bars”

  1. The apple/cherry pairing does sound delicious. However I would have to say that your description really inspires me to make these. Each layer sounds scrumptious! The picture does do them justice also. Great post.

  2. Lisa says:

    I’m completely with you on the perpetual New Year ‘healthy’ resolution. Most people I know end up 10 lbs heavier by June. What they don’t realize is, incorporating one of you’re ‘Oh so evilly delicious’ bars into their bland diet that won’t last, will probably help them stay on a diet, It’s ‘eat what you want in moderation’ – not starvation! So, I’m going to make these and eat one a day ;D

  3. mary beth says:

    These look fantastic, would you consider almond meal the same thing as almond flour? If so, I should be able to make these very soon! Thanks for all you’re wonderful recipes and inspiration!!! Mary Beth

  4. Kelly says:

    Mary Beth – Almond flour and almond meal are usually the same thing. The brand I use is milled super fine (I get mine mail order from Honeyville) so it has a very smooth texture in the bars. Good luck! I hope you enjoy them if you try them!

  5. I’m with you. I try to stay balanced year round. I tend to go a bit nuts around the holidays so I compensate by being healthy the month or two beforehand so I’m not stressing in January. I don’t think people prepare themselves for the holidays which is why there are so many healthy New Years resolutions.

  6. Kelly says:

    Jen – I agree … if people remembered the smorgasbord that is coming up from November to December in – say – September, I think a lot of the healthy eating panic that comes in January would be avoided. I try to keep the eating under control any day that is not a holiday. Also, any day I am not baking or preparing bacon. ;)

  7. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Wonderful..love the apples as filling and the bars are just right for a healthy snack!

  8. Amanda says:

    These look fabulous, and I really want to try them. Trouble is, there’s only two of us to eat them. Any tips on storage – how long will they last, is it possible to freeze them (which is how I normally handle short-life cakey-things)? I guess I could always try it….

  9. Kelly says:

    Amanda – These keep really in an air-tight container for three days, or in the fridge for five days. I am not sure about freezing, I have not tried it. Hope that helps a little!

  10. Sarah says:

    These are baking right now, and the house smells incredible. I can’t wait until they’re done. I just wanted to thank you for posting not only the recipe, but for all the photos that took me step by step. Thanks for making our snow day so perfect!
    xo

  11. carmen says:

    mmm it looks delicious. I will try to make it…
    thanks.
    If you want to have a look in my new cooking blog. this is my adress :
    http://loveforcooking-italianfood.blogspot.com/
    ;)
    see you soon!!

  12. Stunning recipe. Regarding the people who want to eat bland food in an attempt to lose weight, I agree that those attempts will be short lived. I also believe that mental health is important and fear that my mental health will be severely impaired on that kind of diet.

  13. Moderation, a swear word in many people’s books :-) These look absolutely delicious!!!

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