Holidays at Starbucks means that my favorite pastry is back for sale. Starbucks Michigan Cherry Oat Bars are my all-time favorite and now I can make them at home anytime with my Copy Cat Recipe.
I have spent the summer wondering why Starbucks doesn’t serve these Michigan Cherry Oat Bars year round. They aren’t necessarily a winter dessert. I’m assuming they are popular since they are simply scrumptious. I mean really, they are addicting.
Wait no more as you can make these bars at home anytime of the year. And just in time for my birthday (which is today! yay!).
In order to spare you the pain of scrolling past my long diatribe, I’ll put the copy cat recipe up top. Feel free to read my story of the trials and tribulations that I went through to create this recipe. Also, I’ve posted another version of Cherry Oat Bars (my third try) that I think was actually the best of the batch, it even may be better than Starbuck’s version.
And now my long diatribe…
I searched and searched the internet for a good copy cat recipe of Starbuck’s Michigan Cherry Oat Bars. I found two that sounded promising, but each one had elements that I liked and elements I disliked.
I’ll start with the one from A Dash of Sanity. The bars sounded ok, but I really felt like there was more to the recipe than oats and flour. The filling, however, sounded spot on. My only issue with the filling there was that it required fresh cherries, which are only in season for a short period each year. And even when in season, the type of cherries may not be quite right. So, I scratched the pastry part of this recipe and used the filling as a base for my recipe.
Next I got the bar portion of the recipe from Rumbly Tumbly. I pretty much used that portion of the recipe as is since it sounded just perfect. The filling however? Using cherry pie filling then adding more sugar? Yikes! I think my blood sugar would definitely spike if I did that. Not to mention that it is a bit soupy.
So, I made my first batch with the filling from A Dash of Sanity, using frozen cherries instead of fresh, and using the crust and crumble recipe from Rumbly Tumbly. Try 1 was delicious! But, the bottom wasn’t quite right. It was too crumbly.
So off to the adjustments…
When doing the comparison with the Starbucks, it looked like the only ingredient they used that I didn’t, was eggs. My guess is that the eggs are on the bottom portion of the bars but not the streusel topping. Here’s Starbuck’s Michigan Cherry Oat Bars ingredient list from Starbuck’s website:
oat streusel [enriched flour, tart cherries (cherries, sugar), butter, fructose, egg, modified corn starch, tapioca dextrin, pectin, vanilla extract, color (vegetable juice), soy lecithin.
So, I decided to make a few adjustments. I started by splitting up the topping and adding 2 eggs to the bottom layer and extra butter and brown sugar to the top. That was closer. It looked and tasted too caky on the bottom (too many eggs maybe), and the top wasn’t crumbly enough (too much butter). And a second look at the ingredients shows both sugar and brown sugar. So, I think the bottom is a mix of brown and granulated and the top is all brown sugar. I also think there needs to be more oats. In addition, between try 1 and try 2, I went from having frozen tart cherries to the dark sweet cherries (it’s what I had). So I need to go back to the tart frozen cherries on my next try.
Off to the baking!
So, my third batch seemed like it would work well. I adjusted down the eggs, I created measured the topping separate from the cookie base, to try and come up with the exact amounts for both the base and top.
So, you can see it’s still not as dark and it’s a little taller. But, the flavor, consistency, and texture was superb. My son and his friends definitely agree because this batch went the fastest. Here’s the recipe, since it was so good:
Now on to my 4th try. Big time FAIL! Well, my son liked it, but at this point, I think he’s addicted to any version of a Cherry Oat Bar. I had reduced the butter on the base, measured after I ground the cornflakes and oats. So dry. But, the color was pretty good.
I apologize for the decimated Starbuck’s oat bar. They had only one at the store, and I got it for pictures, but my son (and I) dug into it on our ride home.
And then the 5th and final try, regardless of it’s success. I decided either I was going to get it right (or closer) to match Starbuck’s version, or my 3rd attempt would be the final version.
I changed my measurements back to be pre-crushed for the oats and corn flakes, adjusted the flour, kept the butter at the lower amount, and some other minor adjustments like reducing the baking powder to reduce the rise.
And the verdict…
It’s a WINNER! You can see the size and ratio’s are pretty close now, no longer is mine 2x as tall (which I actually like, hence recipe #3 posted above).
I’m so excited to make one that finally tastes super close to Starbuck’s Michigan Cherry Oat Bars. And, if you ask others, it is even better. I can tell you why too. Take a look at the ingredients again. They use Fructose which is not the healthiest of ingredients to use. Between that and the mass production, anything you make at home with real ingredients will be 100x better.
Now, the one difference that is clear is the cherries that I had were not quite right. Michigan cherries are the bright red tart cherries. It’s difficult to find them where I am. They are the cherry pie filling cherries, but I didn’t want to start with a canned cherry that already had tons of sugar. So, I decided to go frozen. If you can get fresh Michigan Tart Cherries, then use those. If you can find frozen Tart Cherries, use those. This is what I used in the final version:
I was able to find these cherries at my local grocery store that had a mix of Tart cherries and Dark Sweet Cherries. It was better than the Costco version that was 100% dark sweet cherries. The tartness of the bright red cherries does help the flavor.
I think that’s all for now. My next version of this will be Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Free of Refined Sugars. Let’s hope I can get a reasonable facsimile of this recipe that is somewhat healthy.
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading! I hope you have as much fun with this recipe as I have had. Enjoy!
And even though the recipe is at the top, here it is again: