Sunday is always grocery shopping day for us or should I say grocery trauma day. Neither of us likes this chore. I refuse to do it by myself and tempers flair. Today was a relatively calm shopping day as we only got a little miffed at each other and the only catastrophic event had to do with the last minute purchase of shrimp at the Farmer’s market that leaked all over my still fresh and new smelling car. While we were out today, I tried to calm myself by picking up the latest copy of Cooking Light magazine. Being the passenger, I was thumbing through it on the way home when I saw something amazing that stopped me in my tracks. Something called Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars. A local health food restaurant we frequent makes something similar out of fresh berries and it tastes like cheesecake wedged into the middle of a fruit cobbler. The restaurant version is definitely something I have been merely allowing myself only a bite of because it is fattening just to look at! So much for health food dessert! (Which is an oxymoron unto itself, isn’t it?). I mentally took a tally of the ingredients thinking back to what we had at home in our pantry and refrigerator. I was pretty sure I could make these bars without ending up at another grocery store.
Well I got home and had to start making adjustments. My boyfriend did not want this to be too sweet. He never likes to eat too much sugar so I set about deciding how best to reduce the sweetener and still have this taste yummy. I found out that I did not have enough dried cranberries but I did have plenty of dried fruit if I used both cranberries and dried cherries. I was already planning on making these even lighter than the original recipe because I had light sour cream instead of the full fat stuff but uh oh! I didn’t have enough. I decided to make up the deficit with non-fat plain yogurt.
All of the decisions on how to change up the recipe were made and then I realized that my pan was too big. I tried to use a 9” x 13” pan for an 11” x 7” pan but the bigger size coupled with the fact that I cut the sugar in half for the crust screwed things up volume wise. I had to settle on a 9” x 9” square pan. The original recipe made 24 squares mine made 9. I am wondering if they cheated in the picture in the magazine because their bars didn’t look much thinner or smaller than mine but they got a much lower point count per serving than mine did when I used the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers site. You would think that my bars were gargantuan compared to the originals but they probably aren’t. So what does that mean? I am disappointed in the fact that I could eat a light lunch for the points I used up on one of these but… they were so, so very delicious for being so low in fat and sugar that it was worth the splurge and I would gladly do it again and again and again!!!!
Please make these. You will be very happy you did.
Cranberry-Cherry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from the November 2008 issue of Cooking Light Magazine
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp orange juice
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup dried cherries
½ cup light sour cream
¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tbsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
2 tbsp whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Coat your pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Break up any chunks of brown sugar with your fingers and mix well. Combine the flour mixture with the melted butter and orange juice. Mix until it is combined and crumbly. Reserve a half-cup for the topping and then press the remaining crust into the bottom of your 9” x 9” pan.
In another bowl, mix together the dried cranberries, dried cherries, sour cream, yogurt, cane juice, flour, vanilla, orange rind and egg white until well combined. Spoon the filling over the crust in your pan. Crumble the remaining crust over the top of the filling. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the filling seems set. If you can stand waiting, cool these completely in the pan on a wire rack (we could not wait more than a few minutes and ate them just warm. The cookies did not seem worse for wear due to this poor treatment).