Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day - Cherry Almond Bars with Lemon Icing

Solo Almond Paste
Featured Ingredient: Almond Paste
Snow Day.  My area of Connecticut reported that we got the most snow in a 24 hour period since like the 1800's.

On a snow day there is nothing better to do than bake.  Since I am fortunate enough to have a husband and teenage son, I am able to bypass shoveling duties.  One of my major roles in this family is to cook, as you have probably guessed by now.  So I am more than happy to have hot chocolate, coffee and snacks at the ready when my boys come out of the snow.

Like the two feet of snow outside, this recipe was a challenge.  The steps in itself couldn't be easier once you have it down.  However, I was testing a couple variations today, adapting the recipe from one I found online on the Better Homes and Gardens site.

The biggest hurdle was the icing.  I wanted to use white chocolate, to match the landscape outside.
It melted just fine, when I tried to thin it out so I could drizzle it two separate times with two different liquids, it turned into a big curdled mess. I think I found the solution with the lemon icing, as I occasionally like to add a bit of citrus, whether zest or juice when I bake fruit desserts as it seems to highten the flavor.  Let me know what you think.

Cherry Almond Bars with Lemon Icing - Makes 12 bars

Crust -
1/3 cup butter (plus extra for greasing)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour

Topping -
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup almond paste
2 tbsps butter

Filling -
2/3 cup Hero Black Cherry Preserves
1/3 cup dried cherries (optional).  I mixed the cherries with the preserves for some added texture.

Icing -
1 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease an 8X8X2 pan with butter. For crust beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer or use stand mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, beat until combined. Add flour and beat until combined. (Mixture will be relatively dry and crumbly). Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make topping by combining flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small mxing bowl. Cut in almond paste and butter with pastry blender until crumbly, set aside.

When crust is done let rest 5 minutes then spread preserves over top.  Sprinkle almond mixture over top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until topping is golden.  Cool in pan on wire rack.
For icing - Stir lemon juice slowly into confectioners sugar until it's "drizzleable" I just made up a word. Dip fork into icing and drizzle diagonally one way then diagonally the other to make a cross hatch.
Cherry Almond Bars with Lemon Icing

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