Cookies, Desserts, Sweet Snacks

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Bars, with Toasted Coconut

for the cherry filling
1 cup pitted bing cheers, cut into quarters
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup cherry filling
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter

First, make your cherry filling as it should be completely cooled before you use it in the bars. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine cherries, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Let come to a boil and then simmer 5 minutes, until the cherries are soft. Add vanilla, then the corn starch slurry. Let return to a rolling boil to start thickening, stirring all the while. Once the mixture starts to thicken (usually just a minute or two), remove from the heat and set aside. (Note: this can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.)

Preheat oven to 375F. Make a foil sling for your 13 x 9 inch pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet (not the prepared pan) and toast in middle of oven, stirring once, until golden, about 8 minutes, then cool.

Blend together flour, sugars, and salt in a food processor, then add butter and blend until a dough begins to form. Transfer to a bowl and knead in oats and half of the toasted coconut until combined well.

Reserve 1/2 cup dough, then press remainder evenly into bottom of the prepared 13 x 9 inch baking pan and spread the cooled cherry mixture over it. Crumble reserved dough evenly over jam, then sprinkle with remaining half of the toasted coconut.

Bake in a middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack. Once the bars are completely cooled, melt chocolate chips and butter in a metal bowl over swimmering water (or a double boiler). Once completely melted, drizzle chocolate over the bars. Let cool and hardedn, at least 2 hours. Remove the bars with the foil sling and cut into 24 squares.

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