i was a little worried when brian asked me to bake up “a few dozen things” for a bake sale the library would be participating in. he charged me with something “morning themed”. i wanted to make something grain-free, but something that everyone, of all diets, would be familiar with. i was thinking muffins, but our local celebrity baker was on top of the muffins, and i wasn’t about to compete with that. the final decision came down to a morning style bar. i based the recipe on the almond butter blondies over at elana’s pantry. i made several adaptations, to “morning them up”. they turned out wonderfully! strawberry really brightens up the decadent cream cheese swirl, and the addition of almond extract makes them addictive. i would not feel guilty biting into one of these in the morning as a treat, and you could limit the amount of honey you use to make them even more guilt free. the flavor is somewhat similar to a strawberry cheesecake, just not as sugary sweet.
i always use smucker’s simply fruit jam, which is sweetened with fruit only, not granulated sugar or corn syrup, and is super tasty. -yes, another shameless smucker’s promotion.
i have another variation on these bars i will be posting, as these are really versatile. feel free to do a little experimenting of your own and telling us about your version!
strawberries and cream almond bars
-for the base
1 16 oz jar smooth almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds crushed to bits and pieces
-for the swirls
4 oz (half a block) cream cheese, room temp
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry jam, stirred smooth and room temp
method: preheat oven to 325f. prep a 9×13″ glass baking dish by coating it with oil.
to make the swirl mixture, whip cream cheese, vanilla, and honey together with mixer until creamy and smooth. set aside. you’ll be swirling this and the strawberry jam (separately) into the base.
now make the base. using hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the almond butter until smooth. add eggs, honey, vanilla, and almond extract. mix until well combined, but do not over mix or it will make a dense finished product. mix in the baking soda and salt. by hand, stir in the almonds.
pour batter into baking dish in an even layer. yes, it’s a little sticky and may be kinda hard to spread out. do your best.
drop cream cheese onto the bar batter by the teaspoonful a few inches apart. do the same with the strawberry jam. drag a spoon through the cream cheese and jam to make swirls.
bake for 35 minutes. i like to leave the center just a hair jiggly, as it will set a little after you pull it from the oven.
let cool for a few hours before slicing. i didn’t wait. i sliced after a half an hour. they were really messy, but i wanted to eat them as soon as possible. i told myself this was so i could “test and adjust the recipe accordingly”, but it is actually because i am a glutton.