This Sunday, February 16th, is National Almond Day. The reason I know this is because I was asked to do a video promoting February as Heart Health month. Since almonds are naturally heart healthy and their national day is this month, the Almond Board, in partnership with Jarlsberg Lite, was game to sponsor the video.
To get ready for the shoot I made a couple of almond recipes, including a wonderful hummus that calls for almond butter instead of tahini. Everyone who tried it gave it two thumbs up, and so we’ll be running the recipe for that soon.
Since I enjoy teatime everyday, I also wanted to make something sweet with almonds. Using the Almond Board’s recipe as a guide, I developed my own bar, which I love because even though it tastes pretty naughty, it’s actually quite heart-nice. With the bulk of the bar’s fat in the form of heart-healthy almond butter, there’s just enough butter to make you think it’s decadent. Try to find natural almond butter—its thinner in texture helps creates that chewy blondie texture
Going into the pan, this dough is more cookie-dough like than batter, so press the dough into the pan, as well as the almonds that get sprinkled on the top. I originally made the bars with all-purpose flour and then with cake flour as I often do when making blondies, but I tried them with almonds flour and it works equally well, making the bars gluten-free. Just know that if you don’t have almond flour, you can substitute all-purpose.
For those who wan to see the video, I’m sharing that too. This whole new way heart-healthy way of life is very real for me, and it’s (mostly) enjoyable to discover new ways of eating that are both pleasurable and heart-healthy.
Makes 16 Bars
Almond butter may be found next to the jams and jellies in some supermarkets. Otherwise, you can make it by grinding together 1 cup roasted almonds and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender, then adding 3 tablespoons almond or vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream, and blending until the mixture comes together. This recipe makes 3/4 cup.
To roast almonds, place them in a preheated 350°F. oven on a baking sheet for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown.
3/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup natural almond butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup old-fashion rolled oats
3/4 cup slivered roasted almonds, divided
3/4 cup finely diced dried dates or apricots
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan; line with heavy-duty foil, leaving an overhang on two sides to facilitate removal of bars from pan, and then grease the foil.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Using a hand mixer, beat butter and almond butter until fluffy. Add brown sugar; beat until smooth. Add egg and almond extract; continue to beat until incorporated. Stir in dry ingredients until blended. Mix in oatmeal, 1/2 cup almonds, and dates. Press dough into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup almonds; press them into dough to adhere. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool a few minutes to firm up Pull bars from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Peel foil off blondies, cut into 16 squares and serve.