These almond bar cookies, Mandelkekse, look absolutely scrumptious and taste divine drizzled with chocolate! They have a deliciously soft shortbread texture and, best of all, they are full of that wonderful almond flavor, which we Germans love so much. These are a Christmas MUST for our family!
Scandinavian almond bars are typically drizzled with an almond glaze made of powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk. I do make them that way occasionally (pictured further below), but I just love the taste of almonds combined with dark chocolate. Plus, the drizzled chocolate adds a nice contrast and makes the bars look so pretty. A perfect addition to any holiday table!
This recipe for almond bars has been a part of our German Christmas cookies collection for over 40 years. Not just because they are so delicious, but also because they are so easy to make.
New recipes can seem intimidating at first, especially when those recipes have more steps than you'd like to see. BUT, this is one recipe that you won't mind taking the time to make.
In the collage I've made below, you can see that it's as easy as these few steps. And after you make these delicious almond bars for the first time, you'll want to make them over and over again. Then soon enough, you'll become a pro!
Start by preheating your oven to 325°F and line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Set them aside.
Using either a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer, beat half a cup butter (unsalted, room temperature) with one cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in one large egg and half a teaspoon almond extract until mixture is light and fluffy.
Now mix together the dry ingredients: 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, two teaspoons baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well mixed.
Divide dough into four equal portions. Form each portion into a roll that is about 12 inches long.
Place two of the rolls onto one of the cookie sheets, about 4 to 5 inches apart, and flatten each roll with your fingers to about 3 inches wide. Do the same with the remaining two rolls and cookie sheet.
Take a small amount of milk, about ¼ cup, and brush over the top of the dough. A pastry brush or rubber spatula works well for this. Then sprinkle the dough with ½ cup of sliced almonds.
Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
When done, remove the bars from the oven and immediately cut them into 1-inch diagonal strips by carefully cutting down with a knife. Be careful not to saw back and forth with the knife or the cookie bars will break.
After cutting, let the bars cool another 5 minutes or so on the baking sheets and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the bars are cooling, melt one cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. You can use either a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chips in the microwave, or use a saucepan over the stove.
Once chocolate has melted, stir well and drizzle over the cut almond bars.
As an alternative to the melted chocolate, you can make almond icing to drizzle over the bars instead. Simply mix a cup confectioners' sugar and ¼ teaspoon almond extract with some milk, starting with 2 tablespoons, until you've reached the desired consistency.
Or drizzle half the bars with the chocolate and the other half with the almond icing. Either way, you will get you rave reviews!
By the way, this almond bar recipe is a staple in our house at Christmas time, but it also makes a great treat any time of the year, especially in the summertime.
These bars are so light and yet a sort of soft, chewy shortbread-y cookie with a crispy outside. They make the perfect dessert for picnics and family BBQs, but especially for Christmas and the holidays. You can even turn them into Raspberry Almond Bars by adding a layer of raspberry jam before sprinkling the top with almonds. That's what makes this recipe so wunderbar.
I'm a huge fan of almond desserts, especially this one in particular. One of the reasons I'm so in love with this recipe is the wonderful almond flavor in each layer: the cookie dough, the sliced almonds, and the almond glaze. It reminds me so much of my absolute favorite: marzipan! So German! So wunderbar!
While we Germans know our marzipan very well, it is not always such a common thing elsewhere. It can be hard to find unless you have an international aisle at your local grocery store.
Marzipan is such a treat that simply describing it can hardly do it justice. But I will do my best! It is a delicious mixture traditionally made up of finely ground almonds, sugar, honey, and almond oil or extract. (It's not to be confused with almond paste, which is also made of ground almonds and sugar, in addition to small amounts of cooking oil, beaten eggs, heavy cream, or corn syrup, and has a coarser texture.)
Marzipan has such a wonderful nutty flavor that goes so well in so many recipes. In German culture, marzipan can be found in cookies, cakes, chocolates, candies, etc. You name it! But it's just as good to snack on by itself. Yum!
Below, I've drizzled these Scandinavian almond bars with a yummy almond-flavored glaze… a triple whammy of marzipan flavor!
There are so many delicious recipes that use marzipan, but they're more popular during the Christmas season.
Speaking of marzipan Christmas treats...
…this is one that never gets old no matter the time of year. This Stollen Recipe is a great one to make to get that full marzipan experience.
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