I really do like making bars. Bars feed a crowd and I think you all know how I feel about an 11×17 jelly roll pan! Give me a recipe that calls for this particular pan and I am all over it! With company on their way over for a Friday night dinner, I realized at 4:00p.m. that I hadn’t assigned dessert. I got to work.
I quietly sat in my big leather arm chair and sifted through a few cookbooks. I grabbed those that I haven’t cooked from in a while; Bake, Tartine, The Joy of Cooking, and 125 Cookies and stole a few quiet moments while all three of my kids were playing next door. I settled on a recipe from 125 Cookies because the bars that I chose called for basic kitchen staples.
Elinor calls these bars “double deckers”. But upon reading it, it immediately reminded me of a classic french cake; Dacquoise. Although this bar doesn’t have butter cream, it was my first reaction. The base of the bar was similar to a shortbread and the top layer was a meringue. I have never made anything like this and I was intrigued. The original recipe called for almond extract and pecans. But with this reminding me of a dacquoise, I swapped out the pecans for sliced, toasted almonds. Good call, Susan!
I thought my kids would hate these. Quite the opposite! These are delicious, especially if you are an almond fan!
Shortbread Almond Meringue Bars
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 lb(2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white, organic cane sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. arrowroot
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
• preheat oven to 325*. butter a 10 1/2″ x 15 1/2″ baking sheet.
• on a small baking sheet toast almonds for about 7-8 minutes. set aside to cool
• sift flour, salt, and baking powder. set aside.
• separate the eggs and set aside.
• put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. cream to combine.
• add the egg yolks and the vanilla, mixing until smooth.
• add the dry ingredients(flour mixture) and mix until a dough forms. spread the dough into the prepared pan.
• clean the work bowl of your electric mixer. using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. add the arrowroot and increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form. lower speed and add the brown sugar, a little bit at a time. mix in the almond extract.
• spead the meringue over the unbaked crust, spreading with an off set spatula.
• sprinkle with toasted almonds.
• bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. the bars are done when the top is a light brown and a toothpick insterted in the middle comes out clean.
• cool thoroughly in the pan. when cool, place in the fridge for an hour or so – this makes cutting them easier and cleaner.
• these can be frozen, wrapped individually. can last 1 month in the freezer.
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com