I'm always looking for replacements for the kidz cliff bars and various granola bars my son adores. I use them as a snack before his after school activities when he's hungry and needs something to eat but nothing so big as to ruin dinner. I found this recipe on The Smitten Kitchen (one of my very, very, favorite recipe blogs) under the title 'Fruit Breakfast Bars'.
I only switched it up by making it with frozen organic blueberries because they were $2.50 at Trader Joes versus $8 frozen organic raspberries at Safeway. I'd say I would use our fresh raspberries when we get some but that would be a lie. I'm not using our fresh berries for anything but eating straight! I also added about 2t corn starch to the blueberries because they were pretty liquid and I was worried they would cook up too runny. When I layered the blueberries on, I left most of the liquid in the bowl.
These are excellent at holding together in a bar form (so many things I make get crumbly) and so far they have frozen very well and then defrosted perfectly for his afternoon snack. They're definitely on the sweet side (even though I cut back the brown sugar by 1/4 cup [accidentally but it worked]) but they probably don't have much more sugar than a store-bought bar. He loves them and we had fun making them together so it's a win-win!
For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I accidentally used 3/4)
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the berry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound berries (blackberries, raspberries or blueberries), fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan (I used my ceramic pan and it was just fine). Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hans or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.
Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the berries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.
Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the berry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days or wrapped and frozen.