This recipe comes from Patti LaBelle and is a part of Food52's Bake Off benefitting No Kid Hungry.
These bar cookies are easy enough to make anytime, but pretty enough to be on your best holiday cookie platter. I make them with just one kind of fruit preserves, but here’s a little trick from me to you: If you use two flavors, spread on opposite sides of the crust, you’ll end up with two kinds of cookies for variety. And you’ll look as if you spent twice as much time in the kitchen! This recipe uses raspberry and apricot, but try apricot and strawberry, or two different berries. If you want them to look a bit more almond-y, insert a sliced almond into the top of each baked bar.
Softened butter and flour, for the pan
1 1/2 cups
unbleached all-purpose flour
almond meal or almond flour
packed light brown sugar
(2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan (preferably nonstick for this recipe). Fold a 14-inch-long strip of aluminum foil (preferably nonstick) lengthwise to fit into the bottom and up two sides of the pan, letting the excess foil hang over the sides as “handles.” Dust the exposed sides of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
Whisk the flour, almond meal, brown sugar, and salt together in a large bowl (preferably the bowl of a standing heavy-duty mixer). Add the butter and mix to coat with the flour. Blend, with the mixer set on low speed (use the paddle attachment of the standing mixer), until the mixture is combined and begins to clump, adding the vanilla and almond extracts just at the end of mixing. Set aside 1 cup of the dough.
Press the remaining dough evenly into the prepared pan. Spread the raspberry preserves on one half of the dough. Repeat with the apricot preserves on the opposite side. Crumble the reserved dough over the top of the preserves, letting some of the preserves peek through.
Bake until the preserves are bubbling in the center of the pan and the top is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes until the filling stops bubbling.
Run a small sharp knife around the inside of the pan to release the pastry from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars. Lift up on the foil handles to remove the bars. (The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)