It doesn't matter if it's from an extract or from the actual nut itself, I find the flavour of almonds irrevocably irresistible. In a lot of recipes, I'll often use pure almond extract in place of vanilla. The scent, the flavour, the subtle bitter edge that hits right at the end, I just love everything about almonds. If an almond could somehow morph into a human, I would marry him.
I know there are countless recipes for fruit/nut bars floating around, but I will never get sick of them. My favourite almond partner is, without a doubt, the raspberry. Raspberries look gorgeous and delicate, but they know how to hold their own in almost every kind of dessert and even a few savory recipes. I love that kind of spunkiness and off beat sense of humor in my food, and in people. I'm not even jealous of them for moving in on my beloved almonds.
These bars are the perfect Summer dessert (you may hear me make that claim several times in the coming months.) But really, few things can surpass a rich buttery crumb combined with tart raspberries and the acerbic wit of almonds. These practically melt in your mouth as soon as they make contact. Plus, they are quite easy on the eyes. Brains, sarcasm, and looks. Just my kind of... dessert.
Raspberry Almond Bars
(recipe adapted from Taste of Home)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup + 1/4 cup of sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cold and cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon of Pure almond extract
1/2 cup of finely chopped almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil (shiny side facing up.) Allow the ends of the foil to hang over the edges for easier removal. Grease or spray the foil. Set the pan aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking Powder, and salt.
Add the pieces of butter and cut them into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. I found that it was easier to rub the butter in with my fingertips, just try and be quick, you don't want the butter to melt.
Stir in eggs, almond extract, and almonds.
Press two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar; add berries and gently toss. If you are using frozen berries, don't thaw them. Break them up, and toss them with the cornstarch. Spoon over crust.
Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Once they are cool, lift them out of the pan with the ends of the foil.
Makes about 2-3 dozen bars, depending on how large you cut them. :-)