Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oatmeal Almond Fruit Bars

I recently went to Trader Joe's for the first time. Among a million other cool things, I picked up a jar of Organic Super Fruit spread. It was hiding in a row of cute little jars on the very bottom shelf under the specialty peanut butters and I just had to have it. We brought it home and tried a tiny bit straight out of the jar to see how it tastes. While it was really, really good, it seemed a little too sophisticated for plain old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, so it sat on the counter while I waited for my muse. Then I remembered we used to eat a lot of toaster pastries and breakfast fruit bars. I thought this might be just the thing I needed to create a homemade version that was versatile enough for breakfast or dessert. OMGosh - where have these been all my life??

This whole recipe was inspired by this lovely jar of heaven.
I have since gone back to TJ's and bought another jar of this,
plus a jar of the strawberry and raspberry and
I can't wait to make all the different flavors. Super Happy Mama!

Oatmeal Almond Fruit Bars
Makes 12 bars

What I use:

  • 10 oz. all-fruit spread
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. almond meal / flour 
  • 1 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick butter, cold, cut into chunks

How I do it:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 or 11 x 7 baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

2. Place the fruit spread and water in a small pan and heat over low heat for 5 minutes, until it becomes a little thinner, so it will be easier to spread.

3. Place everything else into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles chunky parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can).

4. Dump half of the mixture into the baking dish and press it evenly into the dish. You can use a rubber spatula, the back of a spoon, or the bottom of a measuring cup, but your hands are the best tool for this job. If you are crazy like me and insist on measuring things for perfect halves, there are 4 cups total. So you need 2 cups for this layer.

5. Pour the fruit spread over the oat layer and spread it out with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon. Make sure you leave a small border around the edges.

6. Pour the rest of the oat mixture over the fruit layer and spread it around. Press it down gently.

At this point, I sprinkled on 2 Tbsp. each of sliced almonds and oats and pressed them down because I thought it would make the bars look extra special. I pressed them down but after they were done baking, the almonds and oats fell off.  :-(   You have two choices here - skip them (the bars looked still looked good without them) or drizzle some honey on the top bar layer, THEN add the almonds and oats, and maybe a little more honey on top, so they have a little "glue" to hold them in place.

7. Bake the bars for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and your house smells amazing.

8. Let the whole thing cool for 1 to 2 hours before cutting so the fruit layer has time to set up. If you skip this step, the bars will mush together and the layers will slide apart and you will not be happy. As Alton Brown likes to say, "Your patience will be rewarded!"

The family says:

  • K hates all jelly except grape, so I didn't try to torture him with these.
  • Andrew said they were an 8.5 out of 10, and that they turned out much better than he thought they would.
  • These are officially in my top 10 foods of all time. They were gone in less than two days because I ate them two at a time. Okay, it was three at a time, but is that really important?
  • I gave two to my mom because I wanted an outsider's opinion and she's always good for honesty, even if my food is terrible. She texted me later that day to tell me "that dessert was to die for" and that she literally ate every single crumb and fallen almond from the container I sent them in.

What fruit jam will you use when you make them?

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