Turns out, fruit-based bars are my jam. These Oatmeal Raspberry Bars with Toasted Coconut were one of the first recipes I shared on Bake it Write.
And while these cherry bars are similar, they have an extra buttery crust, a sweet cherry jelly intensified with tart dried cherries, and toasted almonds to round out the flattering flavors.
The bars can be enjoyed as dessert, as a late-afternoon treat, even for breakfast. And, well, I’m speaking from personal experience. We managed to devour the entire. pan. over the course of a day, inadvertently testing out all these snacking scenarios. Turns out, whenever, wherever these bars are a WIN!Print
Fun Fact: This entire recipe is prepared in a food processor - minimal cleanup FTW!
For the Filling:
- 1 cup cherry preserves (310 g)
- 1 cup dried cherries (160 g)
- 1 TB Kirsch (see note)
For the Dough:
- 2 cups all purpose flour (240 g)
- ⅔ cup sugar (134 g)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp fine-grain salt (like table or sea salt)
- 1 ½ sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (¾ cup, 6 oz)
- 1 ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 3 TB whole milk
- 1 cup (packed) sweetened flaked coconut (110 g)
- ¾ cup sliced almonds (85 g)
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Line a 9x13 metal baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each side, and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- For the Filling: In a food processor, combine the cherry preserves, dried cherries, and kirsch and blend to a chunky puree. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- For the Dough: In the same, but now clean, food processor bowl, blend together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add in the butter, and the vanilla and almond extracts, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture comes together in small clumps. Transfer 1 cup (lightly-packed) of the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside for the topping.
- Blend the remaining dough in the food processor until large, moist clumps form. Then, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pierce all over with a fork. Bake until the dough is golden, about 18 minutes. Let the crust cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven at 375°F.
- Meanwhile, add the shredded coconut and sliced almonds to the bowl with the reserved dough. Set aside.
- Spread the cherry filling over the warm crust. Top with the reserved dough-coconut-almond mixture.
- Bake until the cherry filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.
- Cool the bars completely in the pan on a rack. Use the foil overhang to lift from the pan and then slice into 12 bars.
- If you don't have kirsch (clear cherry brandy), you can substitute with brandy, cherry liqueur, or fruit juice (like cherry or grape).
- I like to make this with Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves - the recipe calls for not quite one 13oz-jar. You'll have just enough left over to top a couple pieces of buttered toast - yum!
- It only takes a minute to make, but if short on time, the filling can be made up to a day ahead - cover and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp before using.
- If you don't have a food processor, you can use a high-speed blender to make the filling, and your hands/fork/pastry cutter to make the dough.
- A heads up: When pressing the dough into the pan, it will be a pretty thin layer. Don't worry! Just be patient, pressing as gently and evenly as possible.
- I like to store the reserved dough-coconut-almond mixture in the freezer until ready to use (i.e. while the base layer is baking and cooling).
- If the edges of the bars get burnt while baking (sugary jam can do that!), just trim off before cutting into bars. Bonus: You'll get nice, clean, even edges in the process. 🙂
- Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit Desserts by Barbara Fairchild.
Keywords: Bon Appétit, Barbara Fairchild, Cherry Bars, Cherry Streusel, Cherry Almond, Shredded Coconut