There are few occasions where I find myself wanting – and failing – to pat myself on the back. However, when I made these bars the other day, I actually felt a considerable sense of pride looking at the beauties before me. If you have been following this blog for a while now, you know that I don’t consider myself to be a supreme baker. Yet, quarantine has given me a unique opportunity to cultivate my baking skills without the restraints imposed by time and stress from other obligations. As such, I have discovered a passion for baking that I didn’t know previously existed.
These cherry maple pecan oat bars are a testament to my progress and more notably, to the progress made in the food industry. I sometimes take for granted just how easy it is to make gluten-free and vegan desserts thanks to the invention of sugar alternatives like coconut palm sugar or gluten-free flours. These innovations have rendered “healthier desserts” attainable and no longer an oxymoron. Most importantly, these alternatives actually lead to desserts that rival the taste and texture of their traditional counterparts. In my opinion, these bars truly do speak to the power of good ingredients and give run-of-the-mill pie crumble bars a run for their money, despite being both vegan and gluten-free. Perhaps more noteworthy is that these bars are refined sugar-free as well! Naturally sweetened with coconut palm sugar and maple syrup, these bars taste just as indulgent as cherry pie without the guilt!
What’s in these Bars:
- Frozen Cherries: Tart and sweet cherries are a wonderful complement to oats and pecans and add to the natural sweetness of these bars! Better yet, because this recipe calls for frozen cherries, you can make these bars year-round without worrying about using a seasonal fruit!
- Gluten-Free Rolled Oats: Gluten-free oats add a nice texture and toasted flavor to the crumble topping while still keeping these bars gluten-free. You can absolutely use instant rolled oats that aren’t gluten-free but I don’t recommend using steel-cut oats because the dough will not hold together as well or bake the same way.
- Pecans: Chopped pecans give these bars a nice nuttiness and add the perfect crunch to the oat bars. Although you could substitute them with walnuts, I personally love the butteriness of pecans!
- Pure Maple Syrup: If you have seen the movie Elf, you know how much Buddy the Elf loves maple syrup…I think I might love it even more than him. So, I love any excuse to add it to a recipe, but this one really highlights its flavor given it is one of the primary sweeteners. Maple syrup has a rich, caramel-like flavor that makes these bars seem extra-indulgent, but by using pure maple syrup this recipe is still refined-sugar free.
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups frozen cherries
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lining an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper and spraying liberally with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium-sized bowl combine the oats, oat flour, chopped pecans, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine the coconut sugar, maple syrup, melted and cooled coconut oil, and vanilla. Whisk together.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix to combine, creating a crumbly dough.
- Add 2/3 of the dough to the prepared baking dish and set the remaining 1/3 in the refrigerator. Press the dough firmly into the bottom of the baking dish in an even layer with your hands or the back of a spatula.
- Next, heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat with the frozen cherries, cornstarch, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt. Allow it to come to boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes, breaking down the cherries with a spatula/spoon and allowing the mixture to thicken. Once visibly thicker, remove from the heat.
- Pour the cherry compote over the oat base in the baking dish and smooth into an even layer with your spatula/spoon.
- Take the reserved 1/3 of dough and crumble it over the top of the cherry layer in the baking dish.
- Place the bars into the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until the oat crumble begins to brown.
- Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool completely (at least 1.5 hours) before cutting into 16 equal bars. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
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Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 8.9gSaturated Fat: 6.3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 170mgCarbohydrates: 25.4gFiber: 2.3gSugar: 11.1gProtein: 2.8g