This recipe appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a couple of years ago just before Christmas. It was the grand prize winner in an annual contest the newspaper sponsors each year looking for unique holiday cookie recipes. I wish I could think of the name of the winner...she deserves all the credit for this gem of a recipe.
I fully intended to make them as a Christmas cookie but through clever procrastination and getting ready to leave for our trip, I didn't. Clever procrastination because the recipe looks kinda time consuming...it's not a recipe to throw together at the last minute. It's not a difficult recipe, though. If it looked difficult I might have just thought, "Well, this looks yummy!" and that would have been the end of that.
So I tossed the newspaper page in with the recipe books I wanted to bring. Thank goodness! I made them a few days ago during a really, really rainy day. Good decision!
I think they need a day to "cure" or whatever you want to call it. They're better the next day. The winner of the contest said that they freeze well which is fortunate because if I don't stick the rest of them in the freezer I will eat them all.
These buttery, rich cookies would be fabulous to give as a gift in a pretty tin or cookie box. Not just for the holidays, either. An any time gift.
NOTE: I recommend reading the entire recipe before starting. I almost beat all four sticks of the butter at once which would have been a disaster. Also, when I added the almonds I was convinced that there were waaaay too many almonds and you could probably get by with a few less. But, in the long run, there really weren't too many.
Here's the recipe:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 lb. (about 5-1/4 cups) sliced almonds
Carefully line a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan (or rimmed cookie sheet) with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
To prepare dough: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg, almond extract and salt, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just incorporated.
Press dough evenly into pan and push dough up sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a fork, prick dough in 20 to 24 places all across the dough and bake 10 minues. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To prepare topping: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, remaining 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Stir in almonds.
Spread almond mixture evenly over crust. Return pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool While bars are still slightly warm, cut into triangles.