Okay, I think it's official. I am going through baker burn out. I know it's not very "daring" to admit it (I am a Daring Baker after all), but I'm really exhausted from all the baking that I did during the holidays. Although I love baking and it's definitely my favorite hobby, it almost felt like a chore during the holidays. Of course it was a totally self-imposed task. No one asked me to bake as much as I did. So after Christmas, I decided to take a little hiatus from baking which is why I haven't posted anything since the yule log. I was disappointed that I somehow turned baking into a chore so I needed to take some time to recover and rediscover the joy.
I hope to pace myself this year and avoid the "feast-or-famine" style of baking that I've been doing lately. Slow and steady is what I'd like to achieve so that I avoid future episodes of burn out. Although I'm still not 100% refreshed, I did do some baking. Most of what I normally feature here are simple baked goods. And these almond paste bars were definitely simple. Sometimes I call these bars "almond joy" but please don't confuse them with the candy bar of the same name. There is no chocolate and no coconut. Just the joyful goodness of almonds. These were a great way to ease back into my baking routine.
Almond Bar Cookies
(from Gourmet magazine Dec 2004)
(makes one 9-inch square pan)
1/2 cup (about 5 ounces) packed almond paste*, coarsely crumbled
*(do not use marzipan)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 large egg, separated
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper or foil, and butter the parchment/foil.
Pulse almond paste, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground, about 1 minute.
Using a stand mixer, beat butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in almond mixture, egg yolk and almond extract until well mixed.
On low speed, mix in flour until just incorporated. Spread batter in prepared pan. Lightly beat the egg white and brush some of it over the batter (You might not use up all the egg white. You'll just need enough to help the almonds stick to the batter.). Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes until top is golden. Cool completely before slicing.