Simple jam bars made with shortbread dough become fancy almond jam bars when you add almond paste to the dough and smear it with an exotic jam. It’s so easy. Chefs do it all the time. Make something completely normal but with an unexpected fancy ingredient or two — think lobster mac and cheese and truffled tater tots.
I can find all kinds of interesting jams at the supermarket, even lingonberry, and fig preserves. And almond paste is the winning ticket to making any dessert recipe seem old world European. It’s definitely worth keeping a can in the pantry. These jam bars are simply a version of a workhorse recipe I always liked on the five-pound bag of Martha White flour, only better. Just regular old jam bars that are a snap to make…with a twist.
The added bonus is that the cut really nicely into bars. Cool completely first.
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 8 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup lingonberry preserves (or other fancy jam flavor will work just as well)
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
Heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
Cream the butter, almond paste, and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
Add the eggs, almond extract, and salt and beat well.
With the mixer on low speed, gently blend in the flour until the dough comes together.
With floured fingers, press half the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.
Spread the dough with a thin layer of preserves. Top the preserves with spoonfuls of the remaining dough. Bake at 350ºF for 45 to 50 minutes or until evenly golden brown on the top.
Cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes about 30 bars.