Friday, January 18, 2008

Apricot Almond Bars

Apricot Almond Bars

Most of the recipes in The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook looked simple and fun, so I it out from the library. I'll try a few recipes and see how reliable they are.

The Strawberry Almond Bars sounded different than other bar cookies I've seen. They have a cocoa crust topped with jam and an almond meringue. I substituted apricot preserves and omitted the chocolate chips (I thought they'd make the bars too sweet and busy). In retrospect, I think strawberry jam would have tasted better.

Be sure to let the bars cool completely before eating- they fall apart easily when warm, and you can't taste the individual flavors. I really liked the crust and the meringue topping, but i'm not too enthused about the recipe in general. Feel free to try it for yourself!

Strawberry Almond Bars
adapted from The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook by Barbara Grunes

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Jam Filling:
3/4 cup strawberry jam, or other jam of your choice
1 tbsp water
1 cup white or semisweet chocolate chips (*I omitted these.)

Macaroon Topping:
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
3/4 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray or grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. Prepare the crust. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the almond extract and flour until a crumbly dough forms.

3. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is set. Remove the pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 375 F.

4. Prepare the filling. In a small bowl, mix the strawberry jam with the water. Spread the mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the jam.

5. Prepare the topping. In a large bowl, using the electric mixer, beat the egg whites, ground almonds, sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest until frothy, about 1 minute. Carefully pour the almond mixture over the jam. Sprinkle the bars evenly with the slivered almonds.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just firm to the touch and beginning to turn golden on top. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

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