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 looking forward to trying these yummy bars. My favorite sour cherry jam is from American Spoon. We think it is better than Stonewall Kitchen’s..
I’ll look for it!
These are so good! I’ve made them twice now and my family loves them. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I do make a couple of small tweaks that make them even more enjoyable for my family.
My husband is gluten intolerant so I make these GF for him by substituting an equal measure of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour for the APF, and certified gluten free rolled oats for the regular rolled oats. The texture and taste is just like I remember from the jam bars of my childhood; no one would ever know they’re GF!
My instinct tells me that 2 teaspoons of almond extract is too much, so I replace half of the almond extract with vanilla extract. The almond flavor is still pronounced but not overpowering, and it’s well balanced with the vanilla. I also add a generous pinch of salt to enhance the flavor.
I feel like the topping-to-crust ratio is out of whack – crust too thick and topping too scarce, so I use 1 cup of the crumble mixture for the topping and I find it to be more satisfying that way.
Thanks for all excellent recipe!
Taste great overall. I think I would switch the layering to make a more presentable dish. The 2/3 dough should go on the bottom crust and 1/3 crumble on top. That way you could see some jam peeking out (like the photos show). The other way you don’t. Would try with other jams too and cardamom.
Jennifer it’s 2/3 cup of dough that gets set aside for the topping, not 2/3 of the dough. If you make these again you’ll find that will give you the perfect bar!
Can I freeze these?
Yes, they’ll freeze nicely.
I have fresh sour cherries and don’t have time to make jam – how would you suggest I use them?
I think you should be able to use them as is…I’d pit them and slice in half or chop, depending on size. They should yield enough moisture as they bake to make a nice filling.
Love the cherry almond bars but I have to cook them about 10 minutes longer or they are jiggly when I check them at 35 minutes. Is that normal for them to be not set up? I use an oven thermometer oven cooks fine.
Ovens and pans cook differently, so definitely cook them longer if you need to. It could also be a difference in your jam, etc.
Thank you! I am excited about these. That jam is my very favorite! Looking forward to a new way to enjoy it.
Delicious and easy. Made the recipe same day I received it and it was a hit. I have already shared the recipe with family and friends, and I will most certainly be making again. Thank you.
What if I can’t find almond extract ?
You can substitute vanilla, that will taste good too.
what if I only have slivered almonds?
Hello again, I’m new to baking. I’m confused with the measurements. Is one cup 250mil, grams or ounces.
The weight of a cup will depend on the ingredient. A cup of brown sugar is about 200 grams, a cup of flour is about 135 grams, a cup of rolled oats, 90 grams, and a cup of sliced almonds, about 70 grams.