Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars with Toasted Slivered Almonds

Some days I just feel like I maybe I should indulge a wee bit less. Perhaps I've had a little too much wine and ice cream the night before. Maybe exercise has slipped off the priority list. (Yeah, what happened to that?) And sometimes there may be a wedding on the weekend at which there may have been short ribs, cocktails and cake that one may have partaken of with utter gluttonous glee. Regardless of any extenuating circumstances, I find myself needing something sweet every day, so, this time I whipped up some healthier bar cookies chock full of oats, whole wheat flour, nuts and dried fruit. Okay, and, maybe a little butter, brown sugar and chocolate, too. Moderation, my friends!
Doesn't this look delicious already?
Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 C brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 C unbleached white flour
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose whole wheat flour is fine)
1 C oats
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1-1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C dried cherries, chopped
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted (350 for 5 minutes is good)

Yield 36 finger-sized bars

Pre-heat oven to 350. Butter, then flour a 13'x9' cake pan. I actually lined the buttered pan with a piece of parchment paper that was a bit long length-wise so that I could lift the bars from the pan without breaking them and then buttered and floured that, too.

Beat the butter and sugar in your stand mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the color is close to your toasted almonds and the batter is light and fluffy. If you don't have a stand mixer, don't fret. The recipe will just come out a bit denser, which is not a bad thing at all.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated and then add the vanilla.
Adding eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, gently whisk the flours, oats, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, cherries and almonds (cooled, please) until the goodies are nicely coated with flour and oats.
Just starting to mix.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet batter.
I did this all in one pour and then gently folded the dry ingredients in just until everything was mixed together.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until the bars are nicely set and a toothpick comes out clean.
Note the long edge of parchment that makes it easy to pull these babies right put of the pan.
You can cut these into squares, but I thought a biscotti-type shape would be fun, so, I cut them longer than they were wide. Next, pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!
These bars would make a great after school snack and are so versatile, you could really add any dried fruit or other goodies into them such as chopped apricots, coconut, M&Ms, raisins, walnuts, (all about a half a cup at a time) the list goes on. The whole wheat flour and almonds give the treats a heartier crumb, but make no mistake, these babies are still a dessert. Although because they do have healthier ingredients, I just couldn't feel guilty - even as I popped the 4th and 5th ones into my mouth!

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