Buttery Almond Jam Bars

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The holidays are now behind us, and I really had a wonderful holiday week with a houseful of family members. Nothing like 5 young grandkids running around the house to keep life busy, fun, and a tad noisy! Every year I always bake a bunch of Christmas cookies that everyone snacks on throughout the holidays and though I always make our traditional family favorites, I also like to try out a few new cookie recipes each year. Because I had made the decision to unplug over the holidays and spend time enjoying my family rather than spending time online, I never managed to get any of my new cookie recipes posted before the year ended. I will rebake some of my new favorites over the coming months so I can photograph them and share them on this blog, but I just had to share these jam bars first.

These easy, buttery bars were a favorite new cookie for both my daughter and myself, but since I only managed to grab a piece or two before there were gobbled up by my cookie loving clan, I decided that I needed to bake these bars again for myself to enjoy once the holidays were over. After a little too much overindulging over the holidays, like most folks, I too am trying to start 2014 out with healthy eating in mind, but one does need to treat themselves to something sweet from time to time. I enjoy munching on one of these little bars every few days or so with my morning coffee, and find by freezing them, I can prevent myself from grabbing more than one at a time!

The first time I made these bars I used only all-purpose flour, but since I like to try and make most of my desserts a little more healthy, the second go round I replaced some of the all-purpose flour with almond meal (almond flour). I buy Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal at my local Whole Foods, health food stores, or in the organic section of my grocery stores. I also occasionally make my own almond flour by simply blending blanched almonds in my food processor until they are powdery fine. I do feel that the first batch using just all-purpose flour were a little more tender in texture, but I really did like the more almond packed second version as well. I suggest using a low sugar jam (homemade is best) so that the bars are not too sweet. I chose strawberry jam for my version, but any flavor you prefer would work well. These bars also freeze well, and are so buttery and rich that I like to cut them into small squares, so you will get about 24 servings from each 8 inch pan.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2013

Butter Almond Jam Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup (1 1/2 Sticks or 6 Ounces) Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 2/3 Cup Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
  • 1 Cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8 inch square pan with two strips of parchment paper crossways allowing the paper to hang over the sides, then spray the pan with cooking spray.
  3. In one bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the almond extract and egg yolks and beat until blended.
  6. Reduce the speed to slow, then slowly add the flour mixture just until blended.
  7. Take 2/3 of the mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan.
  8. Spread the jam evenly over the dough, then crumble the remaining dough dropping it on top of the jam layer to cover.
  9. Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top, then bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  10. Cool completely in the pan, then run a knife around the sides.
  11. Using the parchment paper, lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board.
  12. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into 24 bars, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Adapted from Real Simple Raspberry Walnut Crumb Bars