Excuse me while I stuff my face with these Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Dessert Bars!!!! Did I mention that these bars are also no bake and vegan?! BONUS POINTS! Sometimes there is way too much to be said in the title of a recipe. Like the fact that these cherry dessert bars are made with frozen cherries instead of fresh, so they can be made anytime of the year! More bonus points! And that you need these Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Dessert Bars in your life!!! End of story!
These Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Bars were created with Paul’s parents in mind. They have this beautiful tart cherry tree in their yard that produces more cherries than they can handle. They usually freeze them and use them throughout the off-season months. They also give them away, bake pies for 4th of July, and they still have more cherries than they can handle. Next to pie, my first thought when it comes to cherries is chocolate. It always has to be chocolate with me – no surprise there, right?
You guys, these Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Dessert Bars are indulgent enough to be called a dessert, but really they are filled with healthy ingredients….so that means we can eat them all straight out of the fridge, right?! The crust is made of oats, dates, a little coconut oil, and almonds – whiz it up in a food processor until it all sticks together. That chocolate layer is melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey – whisk it all together and lick your whisk and bowl! Yes, it’s required! I used frozen Bing cherries for their sweetness; however you could easily use tart cherries if you prefer. Chia seeds create a thick jam-like layer for the cherries! Look at that, you’ve got your healthy fats from the coconut oil and nuts, fiber from the chia seeds and oats, and even a serving of fruit!
Each bite of these Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Dessert Bars is perfection. First you taste the crust. It’s slightly sweet with a rustic texture that balances and holds up to the juicy cherries. Then you taste that rich, dark chocolate that has hardened in the fridge. Its smooth, not-too-sweet texture accompanies the juicy, jam-like cherries!
When I thought of these Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Dessert Bars at the beginning of September I debated if I should make them or wait until next summer when they would be a little more appropriate for the season. Then I realized that in the middle of the colder months sometimes we need a pick-me-up that has that summertime vibe to it! Know what I mean? We take advantage of frozen cherries so that we don’t have to pay a bajillion dollars for 5 fresh cherries during their off season. Besides, this recipe was way too good to wait another 9 months to share with you guys. Also if you are lucky enough to have a cherry tree in your yard, tart or sweet, this recipe will help you use up those frozen cherries! *Wink, wink.*
BTW you have a little chocolate on your face – and by you I mean me. If you don’t have some chocolate on your face, you’re doin’ it wrong!
- 4 cups frozen Bing cherries*
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 cups pitted medjool dates (they need to be somewhat soft and fresh - do not soak)
- ½ cup almonds (can sub any other nut of choice)
- ¾ cup certified gluten free oats
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup honey (or sub agave nectar or maple syrup)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or sub cacao powder)
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized sauce pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and it clings to the the back of your spoon. Make sure to stir frequently.
- Taste and adjust coconut sugar as needed.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- While the filling is cooling make the crust.
- Add all ingredients except the coconut oil to a food processor. Process until all the ingredients are coarsely ground.
- Add the coconut oil and process to combine. Grab a little of the crust in your hand and pinch it; it should stick together. If it's too loose add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil at a time until it does stick together.
- Grease a 8x8 baking dish with melted coconut oil and line with parchment paper. These bars really like to stick. I find both greasing the baking dish and lining with parchment paper really help them to come out.
- Transfer the crust to the baking dish. Use a flat-bottomed object to press the crust into the pan; really make sure everything is packed down well. Set the crust aside.
- To a small mixing bowl add the melted coconut oil, honey (or other liquid sweetener) and the cocoa powder. Whisk together until well combined and thick.
- Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.
- Pour the chocolate over the crust. Use a spatula to evenly distribute the chocolate.
- Then pour the room-temperature cherry filling onto the chocolate layer, spreading it evenly.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Just before serving allow the bars to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, so they soften slightly. Cut into small squares and serve immediately.
- Store leftover bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Prep time does not include 4 hours required to chill bars.
Chocolate layer adapted from Raw Salted Chocolate Snack Bars by Pinch of Yum.