Introduction: Scandanavian Almond Bars With a Non-dairy Variation
Wouldn't it be nice to have a recipe for a dessert that is quick and easy to make, yet elegant enough for company or Christmas platters? With this recipe you can whip up 3-4 dozen tender, delicious cookies in 30 minutes, start to finish. Additionally, if you or a friend has a dairy allergy, this recipe easily adapts by changing 2 ingredients, and the flavor and texture remain outstanding. I found the original recipe in a magazine years ago, and including the non-dairy variation, I have made this recipe hundreds of times. They are always one of the first cookies to go at an event.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients:
I always have these items in my pantry, but they can easily be found in any grocery store.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened*
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon 2% milk*
1/2 cup sliced almonds, chopped
Later you will need the following for the icing:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 to 2 Tablespoons milk*
*For non-dairy version, substitute 1/2 cup non-dairy margarine and plain coconut milk. I have found that Fleichmann's Parve Magarine and So Delicious Coconut Milk work as wonderful one to one substitutes for their dairy counterparts, but if you have favorite brands, please feel free to use them.
Step 2: Prepare the Basics:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use your oven light, be sure to turn it on now or it will temporarily change the temperature when you turn it on later. Either line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them well. In small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with fork to combine and set aside until needed.
Step 3: Prepare the Cookie Dough
I use a stand mixer, but this dough can easily be made with a hand mixer as well. In mixing bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium until all sugar is incorporated. Then beat on high until creamed. When the butter and sugar are creamed, it will be light in color and smooth, as in the first picture. Next, add egg and extract. Beat on medium speed, scraping down at least once. You will see in my scraping photo, the "dough" looks thin. This is because the egg and extract have only mixed with part of the creamed mixture. When scraping, be sure you loosen the dough at the bottom of the bowl, so it will thoroughly combine. When combined the dough will be nice and thick. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Take a small piece of dough and press it between your fingers. If dough is smooth, not floury or "gooey", it is ready to be formed into logs. If the dough is floury, mix a little longer. If gooey, add a tablespoon of flour and mix.
Step 4: Form Bars and Bake
Divide dough in half and form each half into a log in the center of your baking sheet. Using your hands, gently press out the dough into a rectangle about 4 inches wide, and the length of your baking sheet. Take your milk and brush a thin layer on the top of the loaves. Sprinkle sliced almonds over loaves and press gently into the loaves with your fingers. Place pans in oven, either side by side or on the center rack and the one immediately below. Bake for 8 minutes. If pans are on separate racks, switch them at this point. If on the same rack turn them around at this point so the backs are now facing front. Set the timer for another 8 minutes. Check the loaves. It should appear set and the long edges should be a light golden brown. If the loaf seems to have wet spots or the edges are still pale, check again in one minute. Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Step 5: Finishing the Cookies
Transfer the cookie bars, one at a time to a cutting board. Cut the bars into 1" wide diagonal slices. and set on a large cooling rack, leaving a little space in between each cookie. In small bowl place one cup confectioner's sugar. Add 1/4 tsp almond extract and 1 Tbspn milk*, and stir with a fork. Most likely the icing will still be clumpy at this point, with a lot of sugar left to mix in. Add more milk*, a little at a time, stirring until you have a smooth icing that quickly falls from the fork. Drizzle on an angle across multiple cookies as you go. Allow to set up for about 5 minutes.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy the Compliments!
Place cookies on platter or tray and serve. Store in an airtight container and HIDE from your family. These are very addicting!