Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars







At last, after days of chilly rainy weather, it's finally getting warm here, and summer is on its way.  This morning, before the day grew too hot, we (mostly my husband, though) dug holes for the trees we bought last weekend to try to fill in some gaps along the fence in our back yard.  Five trees in all - two smallish maples, two hawthorns, and a peach tree.  I'm hopeful that the peach tree will thrive, and in a few years, we might have our own peaches!  How fun would that be?

Once the maples and hawthorns along the side of the house grow, they should provide a beautiful, shaded pathway around the house, leading into the back yard.  There's so much work to be done outside, and the thought of it is overwhelming.  It will be a year, or two, before we can begin most of our plans which include a pergola over the existing patio and digging up the side yard to put down pavers to extend the patio.  I'm dreaming of outdoor suppers with twinkling lights strung overhead, flowers and vines climbing up trellises, an arbor over the path to walk through, and raised beds for vegetables with the sweet scent of tomatoes and basil on warm summer nights.

As the daylight fell tonight, Jamie built the first fire of summer in our fire pit, and we relaxed in the growing darkness until the air was chilly.  The only thing missing was s'mores.












We do, however, have these almond bars for dessert this weekend, which, given my deep love of almond pastries (and shortbread), I'm more than a little biased towards.  They are basically the best almond cookie bar you'll ever eat, and are so simple to make.

The buttery shortbread crust also serves as the crumb topping, and in between is a filling of cream cheese and sweetened almond paste, subtly flavored with a hint of cinnamon and bourbon.  The layers of crust, filling and topping melt together a bit, so that you can't quite discern one from the next just by looking at them, but when you bite into one, the salted buttery crust touches your tongue first, followed by the creamy almond filling and then the crumbly topping, and you fall a little bit in love.













Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars
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Crust and Topping.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Filling.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.

In a food processor, or with a pastry cutter, combine the crust ingredients until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Reserve one cup of the crumbs for the topping, and press the remainder of the crumbs firmly against the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the filling ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.  Carefully spread the filling over the hot crust, and sprinkle the filling with the reserved crumbs.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is a pale golden.

Cool completely before cutting.  Yields about 9-16 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen