Cherry season isn’t for a few months now, but you can find frozen pitted sour cherries at local grocery stores, or online. I particularly find them much easier to use than fresh cherries because you don’t have to spend time pitting them, and cherries hold up nicely when frozen. However, you do need to defrost frozen cherries before using, because they contain a lot of water that needs to be drained, before adding them to a recipe.
Cherries should be tart with a natural sweetness and a colorful burgundy hue, like a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of us associate cherries with Maraschino Cherries, which are not particularly delicious or appealing, but real sour cherries are divine, and make a great fruit to bake with because they thicken up nicely and aren’t overly sweet.
Oatmeal makes a great base, along with some whole-wheat flour in a bar cookie, because it can hold up to a sour cherry filling, while still remaining tender. The combination of the two, crumbles nicely and makes a great crust and crumb topping. I think you’ll really enjoy the simplicity of these bars, making them a true textural delightful in every bite.
16 ounce bag sour cherries, defrosted and drained
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crust & Topping
1 cup whole-wheat white flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
(Makes 12 Bars)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 x 9 inch baking pan and line with parchment.
- In a small saucepan, add cherries and sugar and place over medium heat. In a small bowl, add cornstarch, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water, whisk. Pour mixture into warmed cherries and stir. Press cherries gently to crush slightly, while stirring. Mixture will thicken within 1 minute. Remove and let cool.
- In a food processor, add flour, oats, salt and baking powder. Process until fine crumbs. Add butter and oil, pulse until mixture just begins to come together.
- Pour 2/3 of mixture into pan and press into bottom to form crust. Spoon cherry mixture over top, and sprinkle top with remaining crumbs, pressing to form clumps.
- Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until deep golden brown and edges slightly bubbling. Remove and let cool 1 hour before slicing, or refrigerate to serve later. Enjoy!