Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Cooking; Almond cravings

I've written in previous posts about my love for lemons but I don't think I've shared how much I love almond-flavored baked goods.  We toss back a lot of almonds as a snack item here and did you know that a handful of almonds may help you sleep better? Yes, it's true.  This bar recipe combines both almond flavor with a nutty topping and they were delicious!

I made them for a holiday party and wanted something that would appeal to adults in the crowd, something a little more sophisticated.

Almond Toffee Bars
KA Baker's Companion
about 48 squares

Cookie Base

1 cups (2 sticks) butter
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt


1 cup brown sugar, packed
5 1/3 T (2/3 stick) butter
1/4 cup (2 ozs) milk
1 cup (3 ozs) sliced unblanched almonds

Preheat oven to 350.

To make the base:  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter, then add the almond extract and the confectioners' sugar, beating all the while.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  Press the dough into an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheet (what my mom calls a jelly roll pan), pushing the dough all the way to the edges and up the side just a little.  Bake the crust 15-20 minutes, until it is golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

Topping:  Combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan  stirring over low heat just until the brown sugar is dissolved and the butter has melted.  Spread this mixture over the cookie base.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.  This is the only step I veered off recipe.  I already had a mason jar full of whole almonds, I had all other ingredients on hand so when I put together my ingredients previously I just took from the jar and loosely chopped enough to sprinkle over the top.  The end result was they were still delicious and had a more rustic look instead of a finished look.  At the holiday party they were swooped up and talked about by several groups of adults.  We ran out of them even as a table of ladies asked for more.  Huge hit.  Will make again.  No photo exists.

Several other sweets I've enjoyed over the holidays:

I made The Brown-eyed Baker's Salted Caramel for the second time.  A friend of mine from school has been on home rest for about 6 weeks after a nasty spill she took off the roof of her house.  Yes, real women DO clean their own gutters!  She (thankfully) is a daily reader of my blog and had asked many times for this salted caramel recipe.  Yesterday I made it for her and took it to her still warm in the jar.  Enjoy Kay!

I've written several times about my friend Barbara who owns Marilyn's Bakery in Hobart, IN.  She sent us a tin of their to-die for English toffee.  The tin is almost gone (small sob) and December is almost over.  There won't be any more until next December.  Luckily I can always look back on the memory of my husband and I standing in the kitchen as we both read different sections of the newspaper while we nibble at the toffee in the tin.  It was about 9 in the morning.  You could order some for yourself but you'll have to wait, just like us.

Life's too short not to eat delicious things.
Happy Holidays.
This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads where you will find many other food-related posts.