These may look like subdued bar cookies. Like some take-it-or-leave-it, so-so dessert. Nothing could be further from the truth. These apricot almond bars are the richest, most satisfying dessert I’ve made since those deep, fudgy fluffer nutter brownies or those insanely addictive strawberry and apricot rugelach.
I made them for Emily who was coming home for a visit – Yay! And when Emily’s home, it’s a sure bet that her buddy, Miranda, will be hanging around too. So, let’s be honest — I made these for both of the girls. And if Scott and I could get our hands on one or two, we would consider ourselves lucky, because they are so rich, moist and eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head GOOD!
What makes these bars so special, aside from the copious amount of butter, is the almond paste, whirred to oblivion in the food processor. It permeates the soft, cake-like cookie with a light hint of almond flavor that plays very nicely with the rich, buttery base. Since I was already using the Cuisinart to grind the almond paste, I decided to use it to blend the rest of the batter to save on dishes. It worked beautifully, just be careful not to over process the batter once you add the dry ingredients.
Of course bar cookies require a topping. This simple combination of apricot preserves and sliced almonds may seem pretty bare bones, but believe me, they add just the right tang and crunch to the moist, buttery, almond bars.
Both girls really loved these little nuggets of yum – and Scott and I managed to squirrel away a few for ourselves – so all in all, I’d call it a success! Do yourself a favor and make these apricot almond bars a priority this weekend. I promise, you won’t regret it!
Apricot Almond Bars
- 1/2 cup packed canned almond paste* about 5 oz; not marzipan, coarsely crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 1/3 cup raw sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 2"-3" of overhang on either side. Spray lightly with vegetable spray and set aside.
In a food processor (not a mini prep), add the almond paste and pulse until the paste is reduced to crumbs. Add the salt and sugar and pulse until well combined. Add the butter and pulse until combined, then add the egg and process until smooth. Add the almond extract and the flour and pulse until well combined.
Spread the batter evenly in the bottom of the pan.
If the apricot preserves are chunky, place them in a mini prep food processor and pulse several times until smooth. Spread the apricot preserves evenly over the batter. Sprinkle preserves with almonds.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until almonds are browned and cookie base is set. Remove from oven and cool for an hour. Grasp the parchment paper to lift the bar cookie out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 equal squares.