If you happen to be one of those people who need a break from chocolate once in a while or know someone who does, here’s the answer to a non-chocolate prayer. These bars are rich, with crispy edges and a soft center. They are literally bursting with tons of sweet, dried cherries and a generous amount of roasted almonds that are added to the dough and sprinkled on top, just to make sure you get a big old crunch out of every bite. On top of all that, both vanilla and almond extracts have been added to pump up the flavor, and almost give them that homey, Christmas cookie taste I love. Crispy, chewy, crunchy, and sweet, and I can eat them by the handful.
You won’t believe how easy this is. The most work involved is coarsely chopping dried cherries and already roasted almonds. And we chop them in big pieces because that’s how you get the most flavor and crunch. Better flavor and less work is a win-win as far as I’m concerned. The dough is kind of like a sugar cookie, but with the added bonuses of almond extract and the fact that you don’t have to make cookies – all the dough gets patted into a 13×9 inch pan and you are off to the races.
Toss them in the baking dish, pat on a few more almonds for added crunch, and sit back and wait for about 40 minutes until they start turning a golden brown and begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.
These bars are pretty magical. I hope they put a big smile on your face, just like they do mine. Thanks so much for reading today!! xoxoxoxo
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups dried sweet dark cherries, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until, yes, once again, light and fluffy looking.
- Add the eggs, one at a time (wait about one minute between adding the first and second eggs) and beat until well incorporated.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine.
- Add the baking powder, salt, and flour and mix on low speed until combined.
- On low speed, mix in the dried cherries.
- When the cherries are well blended, add ONE CUP of the roasted almonds.
- Scoop the batter into the baking dish and press down with your hands to make sure you get the dough evenly distributed and get those corners filled in.
- Scatter the reserved ½ cup chopped almonds over the top of the pan, and gently press down into the dough.
- Bake for between 30-40 minutes or until the top turns a light brown and dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes but better yet until the whole thing is absolutely cool and then cut into bars.