intense almond bars

batter

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground almonds (or substitute almond meal)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to tepid
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
2 large eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
one 7-ounce tube almond paste, cut into large dice

finish

1/4 cup sliced almonds

procedure

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the inside of an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking pan with a sheet of release-surface aluminum foil, pressing in the foil release side-up and leaving 1 inch of foil to extend on all four sides.

For the batter, whisk the flour, ground almonds (or almond meal), baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and almond butter. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract

Scatter the diced almond paste over the whisked flour mixture. Pour over the liquid ingredients. Stir to combine the ingredients, using a wooden paddle or sturdy rubber spatula.

Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan.

For the finish, sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly on top of the batter.

Bake the sweet in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until risen and just set. The baked confection will be golden on top, and the top will have puffed a bit.

Cool the confection in the pan on a cooling rack. Gently lift out the large block, using the foil sides to remove it. Peel down the foil sides. Peel away the foil from the bottom of the sweet, then set the block on top of it. Using a serrated knife, cut the block in half horizontally, then cut each half vertically into six long bars. Detach the bars from the aluminum foil. Transfer the bars to an airtight cookie tin, using an offset metal spatula.

creates

one dozen bars

store

on baking day, or up to three days in advance, stored in an airtight cookie tin

notes

◊ use fresh almond paste–soft and moist–for the best-textured bars
◊ this flavorful almond butter (it includes a touch of sea salt–delicious) has been used successfully in the batter for the bars; purists may enjoy this butter, as well
◊ be sure to stir the almond butter thoroughly before measuring
◊ for extra-thick bars, bake the batter in a 7 by 7 by 2-inch baking pan, increasing the baking time by 5 to 6 minutes
◊ never consume raw batter