The recipe is quite simple. The crust is butter, flour, brown sugar, and almonds. The jam layer is covered a buttery crumb topping composed of brown sugar and almond extract. And the glaze is a simple mixture of confectioners sugar, almond, and milk. Simple, yes? Well once you bite into one you will be amazed at how extravagant they taste. Almond, to me, has a subtle sophistication to it. When it takes center stage in a dessert it's flavour adds beautiful drama to the story. These bars are delicate, buttery and yes, as clichéd as the phrase is, they literally melt in your mouth. One would almost believe that there was almond paste somewhere inside the crust or the filling. These could be made with raspberry, or apricot jam but I loved the sweet strawberry paired with the slightly bitter, nutty almond flavour. And the glaze only intensifies the multi-layered taste and texture. I rarely make things more than once but I think this might be a recipe to pull out again when I am in a hurry but want to bake something impressive.
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark)
- 1/2 cup of butter (chilled and cut into tiny pieces)
- 1/2 cup of toasted almonds (coarsely chopped and cooled)
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 3/4 cup of strawberry preserves ( or use your favourite)
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- 1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1/2 tsp. of pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. of pure almond extract
- 2 tsp. of milk
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.
Crust: Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *If you don't have a food processor you can prepare this with a mixer. Just have the butter at room temperature and stir in the almonds by hand once the other ingredients have been combined.* Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a light brown.
Filling: Spread the preserves over half-baked hot crust, leaving 1/4 of an inch bare around the edges. Set aside. In a medium bowl on low speed, beat the flour, salt, brown sugar, butter, and almond extract until well mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Sprinkle the mixture over the preserves. Leave the oven at 375F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before adding the glaze.
Glaze: In a small bowl, combine the confectioners sugar and almond extract. Stir together as much as you can. Slowly add the milk until the glaze thins out and can be drizzled over the cool bars. Adjust the amount of milk to your liking.