Cranberry Yogurt Oat Bars

12 Days of Cookies
– Day 8 –

I’ve been on a big oat bar kick lately. I think I like them because they can often double as a quick breakfast or afternoon snack if they’re not overly sweet. This is one such recipe, and I definitely found myself snacking on this on my way to work. It doesn’t have the sugary sweet, crisp oat crust like some of the other bars I’ve posted. Instead, the crust is soft and chewy which I enjoy because it gives it much more of a breakfast granola bar taste. I also feel like I’m once again stretching it a bit to consider this a “cookie,” but I think it could be considered a bar cookie. ;-)

You’ll likely already have a good majority of the ingredients on hand, so that’s always a plus! You could easily substitute dried cherries or probably any other dried fruit and have good results. I’m already coming up with other flavor combos in my head, so I might try this with some other dried fruits and re-post at a later point in time. :) If you do experiment with other fruit, try to find the highest quality dried fruit with as little added sugar as possible. Ideally a visit to Whole Foods or some natural market would be ideal, but I know we don’t always have that kind of disposable income. I know I don’t!

These are a very easy bar to assemble. The oat crust is quickly thrown together and mixed by hand, and then the majority of the mixture is pressed into the bottom of a pan. I used the same bowl to mix together the filling, the remaining crust is crumbled on top and then it’s baked for about 45 minutes or until the edges or golden.

I tried these about an hour after they’d cooled down and, to be honest, wasn’t impressed. The flavor was kind of lacking and I was just expecting a lot more, but I threw them in the fridge and decided I’d give them a go the next day. I was amazed how different they tasted on the 2nd day and after having been refrigerated all night. Considering the fact that these contain yogurt, I personally think it’s best they’re stored in the fridge anyway. I took them to work and had multiple compliments from coworkers. One guy actually said it was his favorite item so far, and I’ve brought in a lot of different things to sample!

If you happen to try these with any other fruit, let me know how they turn out! I’ll very likely do these again in a few weeks, so be on the lookout for another post or at least an update to this one.

Cranberry Yogurt Oat Bars

Cranberry Yogurt Oat Bars
Adapted from Cooking Light
Yield: 20 bars

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
6 Tablespoons orange juice

Filling:
1 10-ounce package dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 orange, zested (see note)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over 2 sides. Spray well with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Drizzle the butter and juice on top, and stir until mixture is well coated. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then remove to cool.

3. In the same bowl that you made the crust, whisk together all ingredients except the cranberries. Fold in the cranberries and pour the filling on top of the cooled crust. Crumble the reserved crust mixture on top and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

4. Cool the bars completely on a rack before cutting them. Bars are best served cold, plus they’re easier to cut when cold. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Cook’s Notes

Two oranges will yield enough juice (and then some) for this recipe, but you’ll only need the zest from one orange. Be sure to zest the orange before cutting it to extract the juice. :)

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