Last summer, I went peach picking in New Jersey and brought home a few pounds of the most gorgeous, sun-ripened peaches I could find. They were sweet, juicy, with a zip of acidity, and just out-of-this-world amazing (I must have “taste-tested” a dozen of them at the farm)! When peaches are at their peak, they trump the mealy, expensive, and flavorless ones you get when they aren’t in season. I thought I wasn’t into the whole canning ordeal, but after getting those peaches, I couldn’t resist but run to the cooking supply store for some canning supplies and store away these summer flavors so that I could enjoy them all year long.
This jar of peach preserves had been sitting in my cupboard for the whole of fall and winter, and I finally felt it was the perfect opportunity to use it up. The oatmeal bars are incredibly easy to whip up- taking me less than ten minutes to get the batch into the oven- and the result is a delicious on-the-run breakfast or a post-workout snack.
Since the preserves is the key ingredient, you want to use something that is not overly sweet. A chunky peach preserves is great for the texture, but if it’s not available at your grocery store, a peach jam is also good. It’s yours to do as you wish; substitute with seedless raspberry jam, strawberry preserves, or even cranberry sauce (I actually found this recipe years ago in an attempt to use up cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving). Be creative! The world is your oyster.
Peach Oatmeal Bars
(Makes 8 bars or squares)
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup peach preserves or jam
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined. Press half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread preserves over it. Crumble the remaining mixture over the peach layer.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on a rack and then cut into squares.