Finally, a bar cookie that makes a big batch, and it's full of fruit and nuts. Save this recipe to make for potlucks and parties.
Bring water to boiling in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add dried cherries or cranberries, and let stand for 10 minutes or until softened. Drain fruit and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
For crust, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture. Stir almonds into the reserved crumb mixture; set aside.
Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, for filling, stir together the drained cherries or cranberries, cherry preserves, and lemon peel. Spread the filling evenly over baked crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until top is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. In a small saucepan combine the chocolate pieces and shortening; heat over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted. If desired, drizzle melted chocolate mixture over baked bars. Cut into bars. Makes 48 bars.