As any good baker knows, Montmorency cherries are the Cadillac of sour cherries for baking. The Montmorency is a tart cherry that’s grown primarily in Wisconsin (Door County), France and Canada. It was named for the Montmorency region in France. This tart cherry comes from the Amarelle cultivar of sour cherries and is a lighter red color than the darker-skinned Morello cultivar. Dried, Montmorency cherries are a bit sweeter than dried cranberries (crasins) and make a nice sweet-sour, out-of-hand snack. They’re also terrific in yogurt, in a “Chex-mix”-style snack mix with chocolate chips and cereals, or as an ingredient in bars, cookies, and other baked goods.
The Montmorency cherry, which is the most popular variety of cherry in the United States and Canada, has a long and colorful history. The cherries grew naturally along the Black Sea and Asia Minor. Marauding Roman troops brought them back to Europe and planted them along roads for food and wood for repairing weapons and other equipment. They’ve been grown in America at least since the early 20th century and are popular in pies and jams and preservatives. They’re often sold dried and as juice or concentrate. Recently, physicians have been investigating the health benefits of the Montmorency cherry, especially in controlling high blood pressure.
We received a sample of organic dried Montmorency cherries from Stoneridge Orchards, a family-owned farm in Royal City, WA. The cherries were plump and moist and surprisingly large. They contain cherries, organic cane sugar, and a little organic sunflower oil, which both keeps them plump and moist and prevents the sweet fruit from sticking together. Stoneridge’s Montmorency cherries are made with all organic ingredients, are gluten-free, Non-GMO, contain no preservatives. They’re also certified kosher.
A serving (1/4 cup) of Stonridge’s Montmorency dried cherries contains 140 calories, 1 g of fiber, and 24 g of sugar. They contain zero total fat, and no saturated or trans fat.
We decided to make an oatmeal-chocolate chip protein bar with our cherries. Since they are quite large, we first chopped them into smaller pieces before adding the rolled oats, peanut butter, butter, toasted nuts and cherries. The results were chewy, rich bars studded with sweet chunks of Montmorency cherries. Yum! – by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor; photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor
Peanut Butter and Montmorency Cherry Bars
This recipe was adapted from Kathy Freston’s new book, The Book of Veganish.
Makes 8 bars.
¾ cups pecans, roughly chopped
1 ¼ cup old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
1 cup dried Montmorency cherries, chopped
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup pure maple syrup
4 Tbs peanut butter
1 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter 8-inch square baking pan.
Rough chop pecans and dry toast them in a medium fry pan, stirring often, until light brown and fragrant (3-4 minutes).
In a food processor, add nuts and all the other ingredients. Pulse until well combined. Mixture should be sticky and hold together easily (if not, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time, and pulse in food processor).
Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake 20-23 minutes, until top is lightly browned (top should be set).
Cool, then place in refrigerator until completely cold. Cut into 2”x4” bars Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap for easy transport.