After last week’s fried indulgence, I wanted to make something totally guilt-free that used up a bunch of fruit I had sitting in my fridge and freezer. I’m always on the lookout for homemade versions of the store bought snacks I love, so after reading this post about Fruit Bars I immediately headed down to the kitchen to make my own.
I am so glad to have found this recipe because I will never need to buy fruit bars at the grocery store ever again. These taste so much better than anything store bought and they are filled with natural ingredients.
My bars have a crust of ground up almonds and oats along with flour and just enough butter. It’s like a healthier version of shortbread, but it tastes just as good. I had lots of berries and some beautiful blood oranges so I made two different fruit fillings: cranberry-orange and blueberry-orange. The fruit is cooked with some juice, sugar and cornstarch until it thickens and then it’s poured on top of the crust. The fruit is topped with a streusal made with that shortbread-like crust and more oats. Then the bars are baked until the topping is nicely browned and crunchy.
Here’s the great thing about this recipe: it’s incredibly flexible. I made my crust with a mixture of almonds and oats, but you can use all nuts or all oats. It doesn’t have to be almonds, either, you can use any kind of nut you want. And possibilities for the fruit filling are basically endless: apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, cherries, etc. Combine your favorite fruits or add spices like cinnamon or ginger. I didn’t put nuts in my streusal topping, but if you love nuts, go for it!
Tip: make these in 9×5″ loaf pans for easy slicing. They hold together pretty well and would be easy to transport to eat at work or a hike or anything like that. Mine are wrapped individually and stored in the fridge so I can grab a bar to go with my morning coffee or as an afternoon snack. They’ve replaced the muffin as my new favorite snack. I love these things!
Also, I would be a bad Browncoat if I were to make fruit bars with oats and not call them “Fruity Oaty Bars”. If you have no idea what I’m talking about watch this:
Yep, that song will probably be stuck in your head all day now. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Now go rent the movie Serenity (it’s nothing like that video, I promise). You can thank me later. 🙂
Berry-Orange Fruity Oaty Bars
adapted from Eating Well
Breakfast, Snack, Dessert | Servings: 18 bars
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time (counting cooling): 2 hour 45 min
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, plus more for sprinkling on top if you want*
- 3/4 cup rolled oats, divided*
- 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or run regular whole wheat flour through a sifter a couple of times)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract
*Note: These bars can be made with all nuts or all oats if you don’t want to combine them. You need 3/4 cup ground up oats/nuts/combo plus 1/4 chopped up oats/nuts/combo for the topping.
- 5 cups cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries or strawberries, fresh or frozen, divided
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 3/4 cup – 1 cup** sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup orange segments
- 1 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
- 1 tsp. vanilla
**Note: If you’re using cranberries, I’d recommend you increase the sugar by 1/4 cup or so unless you like really tart things.
Note: Steps 2-4 can be done exclusively in your food processor, but I don’t have one and it annoys me when recipes only tell you how to do something in a food processor. Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t have one?
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
- Combine the nuts and oats in a blender or food processor and run until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in both flours, sugar and salt.
- Add chunks of butter and use a pastry blender or you fingers to incorporate it into the flour mixture until crumbly.
- Whisk egg, oil, vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. Pour into flour mixture and stir until it everything is combined. It will be crumbly.
- Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup rolled oats (or nuts or a combination of the two). Set aside for the topping.
- Line a 9×13″ or two 9×5″ pans with foil or parchment paper. Spray the lined pan with cooking spray. Spread the dough evenly in the pan and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Set aside.
Combine 3 cups berries, orange juice, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes. This could take up to 10 minutes if you started with frozen fruit.
- Stir in the remaining 2 cups of berries, oranges, orange zest and vanilla.
- Spread the fruit filling over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.
- Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1 1/2 hours. They were still quite gooey when cooled and I found they were easier to cut into after being chilled in the fridge for an additional hour or so.
Store in the fridge in a covered container or wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper for easy transportation.
Blueberry-Orange Fruity Oaty Bars:
Serving size: 1 bar
Cranberry-Orange Fruity Oaty Bars:
Serving size: 1 bar
These look heavenly! So much more special than a regular granola bar.
These fruity oaty bars look really good! I love that they’re healthy AND a reference to Serenity 🙂
These look fantastic, like a portable version of a fruit crumble!
This sounds like a nice alternative to the store-bought fruit bars, which are always disappointing. Thank you for sharing!
I have some organic frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) I bought at Costco. I’m going to use them to make these with my little boys this weekend. I can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces. They love baking with mama.
Emily, I really cannot wait to try these!!! I am getting my food blog up off the ground with some of my own recipes and am having a blast trying new ones. These will be a perfect healthy alternative to my mid-day sugar cravings!
And no….you’re not the only one out there without a food processor!!
You had me at the Serenity reference… but the bars look darn good too! 🙂
Wonderful fruity bars, its looking very vibrant and refreshing. Healthy coice for kids… !
Really want to make these now. Yummy!
This was so good! I did a raspberry filling with lemon juice instead of orange. I messed up though and the bottom crust was too thin but OMG it’s good! I don’t care if it’s not bar-like, it’s still so yummy. Will def make again.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Alexia. I just made another batch with strawberries and I’m loving them just as much as my other fruit combos. I will have to try raspberries, too. But yeah, the filling is quick heavy, so you need a thick crust to support it. I’ve found that if you are using nuts, you should measure them after being ground up. 1/2 cup chopped nuts is only about 1/3 cup when ground up.
these look amazing. I love making something better than the store bought version
These look terrific! Can’t wait to try them.
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These look great! I really like that you posted the nutritional info, I love not having to run this through a recipe nutrition calculator.
Take some with you! http://t.co/YuKvZeuT http://t.co/EPmH2qtH
These look just perfect for something to go with morning coffee or tea…and you gave a plug for Serenity, too. How about Firefly? Love that too? Thanks for the recipe!
Yes! I adore Firefly. I was one of the few that actually watched it when it was on TV. *Sigh* I hope you like the bars, they’re great in morning or as an afternoon snack. I love ’em!
Thank you for these tips!