These bars have a cookie like crust with a thin layer of sweet almond filling and a generous drizzle of chocolate. They remind me of little bit sized desserts served on a dessert table at some swanky party. It takes the familiar, a cookie crust, and then gives you a unique almond filling only then to cover it with the familiar… lots of chocolate.
I really enjoyed making this recipe. I was able to figure out how to blanch almonds properly and I was introduced to a new way of melting and freeform piping chocolate.
We start with the crust. This a “mix everything together and throw it in the pan” kind of dough. If that wasn’t enough the dough for this crust is very reminiscent to chocolate chip cookie dough. Always a win in my book.
I want to note that the original recipe does not call for a parchment lined pan. Nor does it call for any greasing of the pan. But I went with my instinct on this one and lined the pan with parchment. In hindsight I am very glad I did.
The dough was a bit sticky so it made pressing it into the pan a little difficult. (A dough roller would have helped but I couldn’t find mine.) The sticky dough also made it a bit hard to press it up the sides of the pan. Nevertheless, I won and it went into the oven.
For the filling the recipe calls for blanched almonds. Blanched almonds are simply almonds without the skins on them. You can buy them blanched at just about any big box/health food type grocery store. Being that I have several pounds of raw almonds in the freezer I took this as the perfect opportunity to learn how to blanch almonds properly… my prior attempt left me frustrated.
The key to blanching almonds? Boiling water. Not hot tap water, but boiling water. It really is simple. Boil the water, add the almonds, let them boil for 1 – 2 minutes, then drain.
And the skin peels right off. In most cases you can squeeze the almond between your fingers and have it go flying across the room. The only down side to blanching almonds yourself is that it takes a little bit of time to peel/pop all the skins off the almonds. But in this case, it keeps you busy while the crust cooks and cools completely.
Once your almonds are finely chopped and the butter, sugar, and eggs get beat together the filling is ready.
Spread across the crust and put back into the oven to set the filling. I am pretty sure I over cooked mine by 3 or so minutes. The recipe said “till set” not “golden.” I don’t think it made too much difference though.
Now we get to play with chocolate, the part everybody loves. And I’ve got to say, the technique in this recipe for melting the chocolate and piping it onto the bars is awesome. It is so forever going in my bag of baking tricks. Instead of using a double boiler or the microwave, we are going to instead use a ziploc bag and some really hot water.
The bag of chocolate gets put into a bowl of hot water. I chose to boil the water to ensure things melted but the recipe just calls for hot water. And the chocolate started melting!
I’m not going to lie, I was excited at this point as I started to realize how brilliant this technique is. I moved the bag back and forth in the water. I also used the back of a spoon to press around the chocolate to promote melting.
Before you know it you have the perfect little piping bag. No mess in trying to fill the bag with chocolate, not extra dirty dishes. Just melted chocolate ready to go. Snip the tip of the bag and go to town.
The recipe instructs you to make a crisscross pattern. I did… and then some. It felt like I was piping way too much chocolate but I went for it and used the whole bag as the recipe didn’t say otherwise. It creates a beautiful thick web of chocolate over the almond filling. The chocolate brings balance to the bar.
At this point the chocolate needs to set. You can leave it on the counter or if you finish this up at the end of day and are losing light fast, wrap some foil on top and put it in the refrigerator. While the recipe doesn’t call for refrigeration I found that I actually preferred it right out of the fridge rather than room temp. It also made for much cleaner cuts.
Speaking of cuts, lets talk about cutting the bars for a minute. Here is where you will appreciate having used the parchment paper. You literally just lift the bars out of the pan. It’s awesome. I found these bars most enjoyable in bite size squares, about a half inch square. But you can cut the bars however big you like.
Swedish Chocolate-frosted Almond Bars
Recipe adapted from: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper being sure to go up the sides.
Combine all the ingredients for the crust in an electric mixer and mix on low till crumbly. Put dough into the prepared pan and press out evenly being sure to press the dough up the sides of the pan, about 1/2 inch.
Bake for 20 minutes till a pale golden color. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
Preheat oven back to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs and beat till light and fluffy. Then mix in the blanched almonds.
Spread filling over cooled crust. Bake for 10 minutes till filling is set. Remove and cool completely.
- 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Put the chocolate chips into a ziploc bag. Then fill a bowl with hot water. Place the bag of chocolate chips into the bowl of hot water till melted. You can coax it along by turning the bag over and/or using the back of a spoon to smooth out the melting chips.
Once all melted, remove bag from the water and dry off. Twist the plastic bag into the shape of a piping bag and snip off the very tip of a corner. Squeeze the bag and create a crisscross pattern across the bars.
Let the chocolate set before cutting into the bars. You can leave it at room temp or for a faster set, place the bars in the refrigerator. After the bars have set, 30 minutes to an hour, lift the bars from the pan via the parchment paper and cut into desired size. My preference is a bite size half in square.
Makes 1 – 9 x 13inch pan. The number of bars will be determined by how big or small you cut the bars.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of almonds
Bring the water to a boil in a small to medium sized pan. Once boiling add in the almonds. Let boil for 1 – 2 minutes. You should start to see the almond skins start to shrivel and losen themselves from the almonds. Remove from heat and strain.
Squeeze, pop, or peel almonds out of their skins. I had quite a few shoot across the kitchen, so be careful if others are in the kitchen with you. Dry the now skinless almonds on several paper towels.