With all the chocolate my family is fond of, we regularly look for ways to inject fruit into our Christmas goodies, without making it the "same old, same old". We found a recipe about a decade ago that we make every year now. A crust that is mostly oat and brown sugar, a filling of really ANY fruit you want and sprinkled on top is a little kiss of the crust from the bottom. The original recipe was strawberry jam with almond extract, this year I made filling out of organic Moreno Cherry jam and paired it with the almond extract, then for an extra visual boost and flavor enhancer, I tossed a 1/2 c. of sliced almonds in with the crumble topping at the end. There are endless combinations to the filling, I will list them at the end.
Vegan Fruit & Oat Bars
I c. vegan buttery spread
1 c. organic fair trade brown cane sugar
2 c. uncooked quick oats
1 c. organic flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3 c. jam, jelly, preserves or your favorite pie filling
1/4 tsp. extract of your choice
1/2 c. nuts of your choice (optional...I added this element)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
With a mixer blend butter, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt. When well incorporated add flour and soda to the bowl and blend well again. Spread 3/4 of the mixture in an ungreased 9 x 13 cake pan (glass works best here for releasing the bars after baking) pressing into an even flat sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. White that is baking put your filling choice in a glass bowl or measurer and warm in the microwave for 1 minute or until pourable. When fluid/loose add your choice of extract to the filling and blend thoroughly.
When the timer goes off for the crust, remove from the oven and starting from the edges, working your way in, pour the filling over the crust. Mix your nuts into the remaining crumble and sprinkle crust mixture over the top of filling, then return to the oven to bake for 10-15 more minutes or until crumble top is golden brown.
You can serve at room temperature by itself or hot with a scoop of ice cream, either way they are amazing!
Apple pie filling with walnut oil instead of extract, 1/2 c. chopped walnuts with the crumble topping.
Apricot jam with macadamia oil instead of extract, 1/2 c. crushed macadamia nuts in crumble topping.
Raspberry jam with pecan oil instead of extract, 1/2 c. chopped pecan with crumble topping.
Blueberry jam with almond extract, 1/2 c. sliced almonds with crumble topping.
Strawberry jam with peanut oil instead of extract, 1/2 c. chopped peanuts with crumble topping. (Kids LOVE this...tastes like a really awesome peanut butter & jelly bar!)
3 bags of chocolate chips melted, stir in 1.5 T. vegan shortening with chocolate hazelnut oil instead of extract, 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts with crumble topping.
*You can purchase nut oils at most baking/cake shops that sell cake decorating supplies and chocolate molds.