Apricot Almond Squares
|Title:||Apricot Almond Squares|
Makes 24 bars.
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix with pudding
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (with skins or blanched)
1 1/3 cups apricot preserves (12 ounce jar)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside an ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
Place the cake mix, melted butter, and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The mixture should be crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for the topping. Transfer the remaining crust mixture to the pan. Using your fingertips, press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan so that it reaches all sides. Spread the preserves over the crust. Set the pan aside.
For the filling, place the cream cheese in the same mixing bowl used to prepare the crust, and with the same beaters (no need to clean either) blend with an electric mixer on low speed until creamy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the sugar, flour, almond extract, and egg. Beat on low speed until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Use the rubber spatula to spread the filling over the preserves so that it covers the entire surface. Scatter the reserved crust mixture over the preserves. Place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set, 33 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
Cut the cake into 24 bars. Remove the bars from the pan with a metal spatula and serve.
NOTE: Store these bars, covered in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the bars overnight in the refrigerator before serving.