I’ve been very busy this week cranking out holiday cookies in anticipation of my family arriving Monday for the holidays. Although I do make a number of the same cookies each year which are traditional family favorites, I do like to test out a few new recipes as well.
I grew up on shortbread cookies which remain my favorite cookie after all these years, because for me there is nothing better than taking a bite out of a buttery, tender, simple cookie. These tasty bars incorporate a shortbread base, a cranberry jam center, and a crumbly almond topping.
I always buy too many cranberries each Thanksgiving, so I end up with an excess of cranberry sauce. I simply freeze the extra sauce and use it in my baked goods for Christmas. If you prefer, you could use canned cranberry sauce, or even replace cranberries with your favorite flavor of jam or preserves.
Apricot jam works well with almonds and would be very tasty in these bars! This recipe makes a large (13 x 9 inch) pan of bars. Since they are buttery and rich, I prefer them cut into 2 inch squares so you will end up with a lot of bars or cookies. These bars freeze well or can be stored covered in the refrigerator for seven days.
- 1 Pound Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 4 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 2 Cups Leftover Cranberry Sauce, Your Own Recipe, Or This Cranberry Pear Sauce (See Notes Above)
- 1 1/2 Cups Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper allowing an overhang, then spray with a nonstick baking spray.
- In large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars using an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 4 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and blend.
- Add the flour and salt, and beat at low speed just until mixed.
- Take 1/3 of the mixture and using your fingers, press it into the bottom of the pan.
- Add the sliced almonds to the remaining dough and refrigerate until needed.
- Bake the bottom crust until it is lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spread the sauce on top.
- Using your fingers, crumble the remaining shortbread almond mixture on top of the jam to cover.
- Return to the oven, and bake until the topping is firm and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, use the parchment to help remove the bars from the pan and place on a cutting board.
- Cut the bars into long strips, and then into squares.
- Serve immediately, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1 week.