FOR THE CHERRY CHIA JAM:*
- 2 cups (280 g) cherries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (20 g) chia seeds
FOR THE BARS:
- 1 cup (80 g) rolled oats, gluten-free if needed
- 1 cup (128 g) blanched almand flour
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup (100 g) cane sugar **
- 1/4 tsp salt
MAKE THE JAM:
- Add the cherries and maple syrup to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Heat until the cherries begin to release their liquid, about 5 – 15 minutes depending on whether or not they were fresh, frozen, or thawed. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the cherries begin to reduce and thicken, about 5 -10 minutes. Use your spoon or a potato masher to break them apart further if desired.
- Stir in the chia seeds, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the jam to cool. It will continue to thicken the longer it sits, which is why I usually like to make it the night before I’m planning on making these bars.
MAKE THE BARS:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and prepare an 8×8 (20×20 cm) baking pan by lining it with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal.
- Add the oats and almond flour to a high-speed blender or food processor and process on high for about 10 seconds, or until the oats have broken down into the consistency of a fine flour. Add the remaining crust ingredients and continue processing until a sticky dough begins to form. Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides of your blender/processor as necessary.
- Transfer 2/3 of the dough into your prepared baking pan, using your fingers or a spatula to ensure that it is pressed down tightly and evenly. It might be a little stubborn, so I recommend spraying your spatula with cooking spray or keeping a small bowl of water close by so you can wet your fingers. Spoon the chia jam over the surface, and use a spatula or knife to spread it evenly, making sure to only go within 1/4 of the edge to prevent the jam from burning. Top with remaining dough by dropping it on top in in a few separate globs, and then using your spatula to spread them out.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the centre has set and the bars begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a sharp knife to cut them into individual bars and store them in partially covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. After that, cover them and keep the bars in the fridge or wrap them individually and freeze for up to 3 months.
* You can also use 3/4 cup store-bought jam if you don’t have time to make your own.
** I like to use regular cane sugar because of the lighter colour it gives the crust, but you can sub in coconut sugar as well. You can also reduce the amount of sugar to 6 Tbsp if you want less sweet bars.