A year or so ago I read a Christmas mystery book (Oh, have I told you I love to read murder mysteries?) by an author, Joanne Fluke, who puts recipes in her books. I was particularly intrigued by one of the recipes -- Candy Cane Bar Cookies. Now, here's the thing, I don't really like the mint/chocolate combo (I know, sacrilege to all of the Girl Scouts Thin Mints lovers of the world...don't hate me) but I wanted to try the original recipe before I started messing with it. So, I made a batch, and you know, it was pretty good, even with the crushed candy canes! Nonetheless, I wasn't going to eat them so I sent the batch off to work with the Canadian. I figure a room full of hungry men sitting in front of the computer ought to be sufficient impetus to polish off a batch of bar cookies.
In any case, I wondered how I would change this recipe to suit my own tastes and so I started rummaging around in my jars of extracts...et voila! Almond extract! I would replace the candy canes and peppermint extract with almonds and almond extract. So I give to you, Joanne Fluke's Candy Cane Bar Cookies (from her book Candy Cane Murder) adapted by Moi and now called: Texpat Chocolate Almond Bar Cookies. (I challenge my genius baking friend Kate Payne of Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking to make a gluten-free version of this!)
Texpat Chocolate Almond Bar Cookies
(inspired by Joanne Fluke's Candy Cane Bar Cookies)
*Note, I use organic and natural wherever possible. Feel free to substitute however you see fit.
1 cup of organic unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup of organic, natural (not refined) sugar (I use Whole Foods Fair Trade evaporated cane juice)
1 teaspoon almond extract (I use Simply Organic brand)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Simply Organic brand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 cups flour (unbleached, unbromated, organic -- I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (6oz bag)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl on high for 1 to 1 minute 30 seconds. Set on the counter to cool.
- Place the sugar in a bowl to use with an electric mixer (can be mixed by hand but it's way more work!). Add the egg and beat it in until it's thoroughly mixed with the sugar.
- Add the almond extract, vanilla extract, salt and 2/3 cup almonds. Mix it up.
- Feel the bowl with the butter, if it's cool enough to cup your hands around it, then it's ok to mix. Pour in and blend slowly.
- Add the flour in half cup increments, beating after each addition.
- Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips by hand.
- Spread the batter evenly in a greased or Pammed 9X13 inch pan. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until it feels firm on top.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the remaining 2 cups chocolate chips on top. Immediately cover with a heavy duty piece of foil or cookie sheet. (This keeps the heat in).
- Let it sit for 3 minutes then take off the cookie sheet or foil and spread out the chocolate chips as you would frosting with a rubber spatula or frosting knife.
- Sprinkle 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds on top. (If you wanted to make it more festive you could use snowflake 'stencils' and make powdered sugar snowflakes on top instead!)
- Cool completely and then cut into brownie-sized pieces.