This is a great recipe. The bars really benefit from the cooling process. They become wonderfully chewy and they will have nicer edges when cut. The flavor is fantastic. ~Jennifer
sour cherry almond bars are bound to become your favorites too
These bars are delicious, and so convenient to make using pantry ingredients and a jar of jam. For this crumble recipe you’ll use the same dough for the bottom crust and the crumble topping, so they’re super simple to throw together. The topping bakes up and spreads just enough over the jammy surface while still allowing those vibrant cherries to peek through. Kinda perfect.
The word ‘crumble’ features in so many of my desserts here on tvfgi. I just love the ease of this kind of recipe, and the way it can play with so many different kinds of fruit fillings. Here the sour cherries mingle nicely with the brown sugar and oats, which in turn make these bars extra chewy. Once cooled they’re easy to eat right out of hand, so even though I photographed them with a fork, you won’t need one.
sour (Montmorency) cherries vs regular cherries
- Sour cherries are a variety of cherry that happens to be quite tart, and have a very short growing season. Unless you frequent a farmers market, or are part of a CSA, you probably won’t see them in their fresh form.
- They’re used in cooking rather than for eating out of hand, like sweet cherries.
- Like so many tart fruits, sour cherries have an intensely wonderful flavor when baked, and so have a cult following among their fans.
- You can find sour cherries in your supermarket juiced, frozen, dried, or canned.
- If you’re lucky enough to live in the right area (California, Michigan or Wisconsin for instance) you might be able to pick your own sour cherries; check for your location in the PICK YOUR OWN farm locator.
- Sour cherries can be in season from June through August.
sour cherry bars make great grab and go snacks
Because these are so sturdy, they’re ideal for grabbing and going. Think school, work, or travel (once you’ve made these you’ll never be a slave to pricey airport food again.) Lunch boxes, care packages…absolutely. This recipe makes a lot ~ you’ll get 20 decent bars ~ so you’ll still have some leftover for kitchen counter snacking…my favorite kind.
I love the combination of cherries and almonds
The classic combination really shines in these bars, I use a heavy amount of almond extract in the dough. If you aren’t a fan you can substitute vanilla extract.
Try my sweet cherry almond bars for a fresh cherry version.
Ingredient spotlight: SOUR CHERRY JAM
You’ll need some sour cherry jam for these bars, and I’m a big fan of Stonewall Kitchen, which is the one I used today. It’s got that extra tang that only sour cherries can give you. And although you could certainly make these bars with regular cherry jam, the flavor won’t be the same. The recipe calls for 12 ounces of jam, and this jar is 12.5 ounces. It was meant to be. Don’t throw away the jar, either, it makes a great salad dressing shaker!
I made this recipe last week for a “girl’s night” and WOW all of us enjoyed them tremendously. Today I went to 3 stores to track down more jam and when I found it I bought THREE jars so that I can make these again and again. So easy, so delicious. Thank you Sue. ~Deb
Sour Cherry Almond Bars
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 packed cups brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 12 ounces sour cherry jam
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper with long ends. The parchment is optional, but helps with lifting out the bars for easy cutting later. If you don’t line the pan, spray or butter it lightly.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Beat in the egg, baking powder, and almond extract.
- With the mixer on low, beat in the flour, one cup at a time, and then the oats. Finish the mixing by hand with a big spoon, and fold in the almonds.
- Remove 2/3 cup of the dough and set aside for the topping. Then press the rest into the bottom of your pan. I like to crumble it all over the bottom first to distribute it, and then gently press with my fingers. Make sure to get the whole bottom surface covered.
- Top the dough with the jam, spreading it out into an even layer, and then crumble the remaining dough in little pieces over the top.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, just until the topping starts to turn golden.
- Let cool in the pan, on a rack, and then gently lift the bars out with the ends of the parchment paper to cut them into 20 pieces.
- I think chopped walnuts would be a good substitute for the almonds.
- Other jams would work, I like apricot, marmalade, or lemon curd. Hint: you can always add a little lemon juice to jam to give it some extra zing.
- Regular rolled oats have the best texture for these sour cherry almond bars, but if you only have quick cooking oats, use them.
Questions and Reviews
How would I make these just using sour cherries and not the jam version?
I made the recipe this morning to bring to a group of women friends (coffee group)
I had a jar of sour cherry spread that has been in my pantry for a while. Wanting to use hints up, so I looked up recipes and found this one!
Everyone wanted the recipe! So delicious!
So glad it went over well Linda ~ I just happened to buy sour cherries the other day, hoping to do something new and delicious with them!
This is a great recipe. The bars really benefit from the cooling process. They become wonderfully chewy and they will have nicer edges when cut. The flavor is fantastic.
Sue, I made these yesterday as a “thank you!” to two neighbors for helping my husband to wrangle a new fridge into the house, and the old one out. They were a hit! I did substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla for 1 of the teaspoons of almond extract. The 35-minute baking time was perfect! Golden brown, with a very slight jiggle in the center, which disappeared as they cooled. I sliced them into 1″x3″ bars, and got 39 bars from the recipe. Thanks so much for a great recipe. Sour cherries are our fave for pies, but I’d never heard of sour cherry preserves. Another new fave!
Glad it was a hit, thanks Laura!
New favorite recipe, and great to share with a crowd. I have already made these bars twice in the past 2 weeks, and my co-workers begged for the recipe! My huge cherry tree produces tiny but tasty sour cherries, and after picking and laboriously processing them into jam, I wanted a recipe that would let the jam be the star. The strong almond flavor of the crust highlights the tart cherry flavor beautifully, and the crunchy crust and topping is divine. The second time I made these, I had fresh blackberries to use up (it’s summer in the PNW), so I used a thin layer of the cherry jam (about 3/4 cup) and added 2 cups of blackberries tossed with 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp cornstarch. I like the original recipe a bit better, but it’s a great way to highlight fresh fruit or a favorite jam.
My only issue is that these bars took much longer to bake than the recipe called for—about 50 minutes in my glass 9×13” pan. The dough topping in the middle was still uncooked and soft at 35 minutes. Same issue when I used 2 smaller pans the second time. Maybe it’s my oven? But I think the extra cooking time allowed for more caramelization of the crust and jam, so the result was worth the wait.
I love your variation Julia ~ the combination of berries sounds so good. And baking time is always an estimate, even for me, using the same pans and oven, times are always a bit different. Possibly the blackberries made your filling wetter?
I just posted a comment but forgot to rate the recipe! It’s 5 stars from me!
Yay, thanks 🙂
My son picked up sour cherries by mistake so l made these bars! They were delicious. I pitted and halved the cherries to yield 2 cups. I sprinkled the flaked almonds on the top rather than incorporating into the batter so I could leave a little nut free. Next time I make this recipe I’ll experiment with shredded coconut. It’s a keeper!