Tangy, creamy, chocolate-covered and bursting with fruit flavour, no-bake Sour Cherry Bars are a decadent treat and a great way to use tart, juicy Evans cherries. (Plus you’d never guess they’re made with healthy ingredients!)
Every year I play Russian roulette with our Evans cherries – waiting as long as I possibly can to leave them on the trees so they get maximum sweetness, but not so long that the wasps discover them and start fighting me for those tart-sweet juicy orbs. The cherries are usually even sweeter after that first light frost, but not this year.
Everything has ripened so much earlier everywhere. Forests started turning yellow at least two weeks before they usually do – we saw our first yellowish leaves at the beginning of August – egads! What is that? Tomatoes and peppers have been ripening on the vine. Peas and lettuces were finished their season by the end of July. This year we were eating asparagus a whole month earlier than ever before – by the beginning of May!
If I wait for the frost to sweeten the cherries, the wasps will have polished off the whole crop – getting drunkenly lazy as they stumble amongst the clusters of fruit, eating big chunky holes into them and laying in wait to sting fingers as we try to pick any remaining cherries they haven’t attacked.
So we’ve been in cherry picking mode around here – Raymond’s been roped in to pick a pailful or two whenever I can nab him. The kittens usually rush out to help, too . . .
We’ve been pitting them and freezing them and dehydrating them (they’re wonderfully tart substitutes for raisins and great for nibbling) and making cherry cordial and batches and batches of these wonderful Coconut and Evans Cherries Bars. I tell ya – they get gobbled up as fast as I can make them. I’ve made them for family, taken platefuls to pot lucks and given them to friends. The raves I get send me back to whip up another batch.
If you have a frozen stash of sour Evans Cherries – make sure to save some for these bars.
I’ve adapted my prize-winning No-Bake Coco-Lassies bars to morph into this fresh and fruity version. You don’t even have to turn on your oven. The tart cherry and coconut filling is creamy and rich with coconut oil, sandwiched between layers of deep dark chocolate. Oh my. ‘Tis a match made in Decadent Dessert Heaven.
The best part is – though these bars look like they should be super sweet and trashy – they’re actually just a bunch of healthy ingredients stirred together with a touch of honey. Coconut oil is totally good for you in so many ways. Sour cherries are loaded with natural anti-inflammatory properties, and even honey and dark chocolate are good for you.
Hey, I think that classifies these bars as almost a health food.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Evans cherries are very juicy and fragile, so it’s best to use them shortly after picking or freeze them for future use. (See an easy method to pit and freeze them here.) The frozen fruits are wonderful added to smoothies, fruit crisps, and made into sour cherry pie.
Coconut oil is the binding agent for the filling, so these bars are best kept refrigerated since coconut oil melts at about 24°C (just 3 degrees warmer than room temperature). Let the bars come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving them so they are at their creamy best.
Coconut & Sour Cherry Bars (with Evans Cherries)
gluten free, dairy free, nut free, egg free
- 1¼ cups (240gms) chocolate chips, divided (dairy-free if necessary)
- 300 grams (10½ ounces) fresh or frozen pitted Evans cherries or other sour cherries (1¾ cups pitted fresh cherries or 2 cups pitted frozen cherries)
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) honey (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups (260gms) unsweetened fine shredded coconut (or medium shredded coconut ground fine in the food processor)
- 2/3 cup (160ml) virgin coconut oil + 1 tablespoon for top layer
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons long shredded coconut for garnish
Line a 9×9 inch (23x23cm) pan with a parchment paper sling that sticks up on each end by about an inch. Crease the paper along the inside bottom edges so it sits flat in the pan. You can clip the paper to the sides of the pan by using bulldog clips.
Melt half of the chocolate chips (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) in the microwave (1 minute on high, then stir till the last bits are melted) or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Put a small dab of chocolate under the parchment paper in each corner of the pan to help keep it from sliding around. Spread the melted chocolate over the paper in the bottom of the pan – an offset spatula works best for this. Allow it to harden – 15 minutes in the fridge or longer at room temperature. *Don’t wash the dish the chocolate was melted in – add the remaining chocolate chips to it and set it aside to melt again later when you add the final layer to the bars.
In a large saucepan, combine the fresh or frozen sour cherries, honey, and salt. Heat over medium heat just until the cherries come to a simmer. Add the coconut and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until the sweet cherry liquid has all been absorbed into the coconut. Evans cherries are so thin-skinned and juicy that they will naturally break into smaller bits as you stir them together with the coconut. (If using a firmer variety of sour cherry, you may have to chop them first or mash them with the spoon as you stir.)
Add the vanilla and the coconut oil and cook and stir until the coconut oil has melted and coats all the coconut flakes, about one more minute.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and scrape the cherry-coconut filling on top of the hardened chocolate. Press it evenly and smoothly into the pan with a silicone spatula. Allow to harden, about ½ hour in the fridge or longer at room temperature.
Melt the remaining half of the chocolate chips together with the 1 tablespoon coconut oil and spread this over the hardened filling. Sprinkle the long-thread coconut evenly over the top.
When the top layer has hardened, run a knife down the sides of the pan that don’t have the paper sling. Lift the slab of Cherry Bars from the pan by pulling up on the paper flaps. Place it on a cutting board and cut the slab into 24 small bars (4 rows of 6 bars) or 16 larger squares.
Store the Coconut & Sour Cherry bars in a covered container in the fridge – they will keep for several weeks. Remove from the fridge at least 15 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.
The bars also freeze well.
Makes 16 to 24 bars.
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