Cherry coconut oat bars

I love cherries, I mean who doesn’t love cherries? And it’s cherry season in BC and I couldn’t be happier.

But I always eat cherries fresh, just the way they are.  I’ve never really been a big fan of cooked cherries, couldn’t get into cherry pie, or cherry sauce – you know like the kind on cheesecake or something – I never really liked the taste.  And now I know why – way too much added sugar and artificial sweetness.  Cherries are awesome because along with that little bit of tart they also have their own unique sweetness, which is delicious; not so much when you add a bunch of extra crap.

Nonetheless I wanted to try to do something with them other than just eating them by the fistful.

I’ve made a lot of various kinds of fruit and oat bars, but none that I’ve been satisfied with, until now.  This vegan snack recipe fixed my cooked cherry issue and my oat bar issue in one go.  They taste amazing and they are refined sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.

The awesome thing is that the base will work for other flavours too, so if cherries aren’t your thing you could do strawberry, apple, blueberry, or whatever other fruity flavour you love.

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INGREDIENTS

Filling

  • 6 cups pitted cherries ( I use BC Tree Fruits cherries)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

Crust & topping

  • 2 cups gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp flax seeds *optional
  • 1 tsp chia seeds *optional

*Special Notes: the flax and chia seeds are not necessary for the base I just add them in for extra nutrients.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a greased 9″x 13″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the cherries, maple syrup and ¼ cup of the water in a pot on medium heat and allow to bubble. Once it does, turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer until the cherries are soft (about 12-15 min.), stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix the corn starch and the remaining 3 tbsp of water in a small bowl and slowly pour it into the cherries, stirring constantly. Cook the cherries for another 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Place all of the crust ingredients (minus the 1 tbsp of coconut flakes) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture sticks together, about 30-45 seconds. Set a cup and 1/4 cup of the crust mixture aside. Then press the rest in the bottom of the prepared pan to form an even layer. Bake the crust for 7-9 minutes until just starting to turn golden and remove from the oven.
  5. Pour the cherry mix on top of the base and smooth evenly. Then sprinkle the remaining crust evenly on top of the base and bake for 25 min, remove from oven and sprinkle the 1 tbsp of coconut flake over top, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  6. It works best to refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting.
  7. Serve on their own or with vanilla bean ice cream (you can do dairy-free) for a special treat.

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These bars are great for breakfast, a snack, to put in the kids lunch (when they get back to school), or served with vanilla ice cream for a special treat.

But the best part – real cherry flavour, not over sugared fake gelatinized cherry.  This recipe really highlights the beautiful natural flavour and I promise you will want to make your own cherry pie, and cherry sauce and such after tasting them this way.

Cherry season is short but sweet, so grab a bag and get baking!

Till the next recipe.

 

Kristen xo

 

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