Do you ever wake up with a crick in your neck?
I never used to. I honestly never felt much pain at all in my now squandered youth. But these days, this persistent and quite literal pain in my neck just pops up most mornings and reminds me of my mortality. If I try to stretch it out or massage it, people just look at me funny. And since my mornings start with tons of students, it’s better to leave well enough alone.
It’s much more fun to focus on how I’m getting better, not worse, with time. For instance, I’m stronger physically than I’ve ever been, thanks to punishing workouts. After seven years or so, I’m finally starting to figure out this whole motherhood thing, kind of. And the treats coming out of my kitchen are just going from happy to happier!
Take these Linzer cookie bars, for instance. For years, I’ve been a big fan of the traditional toffee bar, in which a buttery cookie crust gets covered in chocolate and nuts. This bar is a variation on that, and if I can say this without sounding immodest, a pretty dang amazing one.
Like the traditional Linzer, the crust here has a ground almond base. It’s buttery too, and flaky, and ever so perfect. I spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on the crust right out of the oven, and it melts in just a bit. Of course, then you add your chocolate layer and some roughly pulverized slivered almonds.
It’s cookie heaven. We have a big holiday party coming up, and I had to put most of these away immediately in the freezer. But I did keep two out for my afternoon tea, and now I’m holding back from ripping my freezer door open and obliterating a few more.
If you don’t know much about Linzer cookies, you need to start now. These bars have the same flavor, but without the stress of rolling out cookies and cutting them into cute shapes. We all change with time, and in some ways, that’s actually quite lovely, especially when the cookies coming out of the kitchen just get better and better!
1 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 and 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup silvered almonds, roughly crushed
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine the almond meal and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream the butter, powdered sugar and egg yolk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Adding each gradually, alternate the flour and the almond mixture until both are fully incorporated.
- Press the dough into the prepared pan evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust begins to turn golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the raspberry jam thinly on the crust, taking care to be gentle.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the jam. Return the pan to the oven for 2 minutes.
- Take the bars out and spread the chocolate evenly over the jam. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
- Note: I crushed the almonds by putting them in a Ziploc bag and running a rolling pin over the bag a few times.
- Put the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the chocolate set. Allow the pan to come to room temperature and then lift the bars out with the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.