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.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 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.
- In one bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and cinnamon.
- In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the almond extract and egg yolks and beat until blended.
- Reduce the speed to slow, then slowly add the flour mixture just until blended.
- Take 2/3 of the mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the jam evenly over the dough, then crumble the remaining dough dropping it on top of the jam layer to cover.
- Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top, then bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Cool completely in the pan, then run a knife around the sides.
- Using the parchment paper, lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board.
- 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.