Sour Cherry Almond Bars ~ these brown sugar and oatmeal cherry almond bars are officially my new favorite sweet snack. The cherries are nice and tart, the almond scented crumble dough is chewy and butterscotch-y ~ these are a must make!
These little 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.
The difference between sour (Montmorency) cherries and 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.
My 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!
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
I am planning to make these for a dinner party I am hosting on Friday. It is only Wednesday. Will they keep or should I wait to make them?
I would wait as long as you can, Mary. These will keep, but the texture is so much better fresh. If you want to get a head start you could make the dough ahead, and keep it in a zip lock baggie in the fridge, then assemble and bake later.
Thank you so much! I will do at least t part ahead.
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.
This looks great, but I’d love to make it with frozen sour cherries. I hope you will let me know how to alter the recipe.
Depending on how sour they are, I would defrost and make a simple jam by cooking them with sugar to taste. Once they have released a little of their juice You may want to add some cornstarch to thicken it. If they aren’t terribly sour you might defrost them and use them whole.
Just wondering, can I use less brown sugar and will it still work on the crumb? I have cut back on sugar in my diet and now everything tastes too sweet ! What is the least amount that can be used? This dessert looks so tempting !
I haven’t tried, Liz, great question. I assume you can reduce the sugar, and I would try for cutting it in half.
There’s nothing I love more than a good crumb bar – these look incredible!
I try to stay away from using white flour when possible in recipes. Would almond meal work with this recipe and then eliminate the almond extract?
Just finished making these bars. I couldn’t find sour cherries at the grocery store probably because I live in Canada. I had a jar of lemon curd in my pantry so I decided to give it a try. Other than changing to lemon curd, I also put in half a cup of coconut instead of the almonds. I did this only because my husband’s favorite deserts contain lemon and coconut. I made no other changes except decreased cooking time to 30 minutes. This recipe was so good with a nice sweet/tart taste. Will keep looking for the sour cherries!
Love this combination JoAnn, those are two of my favorite flavors but for some reason I’ve never combined them on the blog, thanks for the inspiration!
Hi I just made from jam I made from my own sour cherry tree. Just awesome ! Thank you.
Hi! I live in Canada too, near Regina. Just finished picking 5 ice cream pails of sour cherries at a friend’s house! I have never seen them in the grocery store though, but they are grown in areas of BC. Can’t wait to make jam and try these bars.
I made these this morning, Sue. I happened to have Mr. Squash’s favorite Black Cherry preserves, so I used that and substituted Vanilla for Almond Extract and walnuts for almonds. It’s wonderful! As usual, another terrific dessert! I’ll be making it again – especially when the sour cherries come into the valley here!
Love this Candace ~ I forgot how much I love black cherries 🙂
Oh my goodness Sue! I loooove SK sour cherry jam! What a delicious way to enjoy it too.. I mean oats, brown sugar and butter? Hello! Deliciously captured too!
Theses bars look great. My question is can you freeze these?
These would freeze beautifully ~ just wrap them nice and airtight.