It's been a tough week for the most part...dear friends experienced a troubling cancer diagnosis, a family member lost a parent, and a friend's daughter was struggling to not miscarry her baby. Yet, in the midst of all that, two other friends rejoiced in the birth of their first grandchild. Isn't that how life is sometimes...in the midst of pain, there is a glimpse of joy.
So, what to do when I want to let my friends know that I love them and care about them in the midst of hard times? In addition to prayer, I tend to bake. I don't know why....it just helps me diffuse the worry and is a tangible expression of love. My mother tended to bake bread...I tend to bake something sweet.
Being the Norwegian that I am, I tend to gravitate towards something made with almonds. The recipe that came to mind this time is a prize winning recipe from a Betty Crocker contest called Elegant Almond Bars. It's a bit of a "cheater" recipe because the base of the first layer is a packaged sugar cookie mix...by Betty Crocker, of course! The bars do remind me of something that might come from a Scandinavian bakery....a hit with me!
Ready to try some Scandinavian deliciousness? Here goes...
Elegant Almond Bars
1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 can (8 oz) almond paste, crumbled into 1/2 in pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sliced almonds
4 oz white chocolate baking bar, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Spread in ungreased 13 X 9 inch pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat almond paste, sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add 2 eggs; beat until well blended (mixture may be slightly lumpy).
3. Spread almond paste mixture over partially baked base. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup almonds. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until filling is set (filling will puff up during baking. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
4. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, melt white chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour and spread over cooled bars. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup almonds. Let stand about 30 minutes or until topping is set. Cut into bars and store at room temperature.
As I reflect upon the past week, Romans 12:15 comes to mind, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." How thankful I am that we can walk alongside our family and friends in prayer and expressions of our love and care. Grace and peace from God our Father, dear friends.