Have you noticed the abundance of luscious strawberries available lately? It's June and the farmers markets in my area are overflowing with my favorite summer berry. Mmmmmmmm! Don't these berries look delicious? I can tell you that they taste as good as they look.
I wanted to celebrate the strawberry this week so I decided to make a favorite recipe from my (much) younger days. Quite some time ago, Land O Lakes published a small cookbook. Looking through the book one day when I was in high school, I came across a recipe for a very simple bar cookie called strawberry marzipan bars. The cookie was easy - strawberry preserves sandwiched between a crust and crumble topping and then drizzled with an almond flavored icing. That's it!
I haven't made strawberry marzipan bars in years. I don't have a copy of the cookbook so I decided to search online for the recipe. A couple of minutes searching and ... eureka! There it was - Land O Lakes Strawberry Marzipan Bars. A quick skim of the recipe confirmed that my memory of the cookie is correct. This is a very easy recipe with only 7 ingredients: salted butter, brown sugar and flour for the crust; strawberry preserves for the filling; salted butter, brown sugar, flour and almond extract for the topping; and confectioner's sugar, almond extract and milk for the icing.
Baker's note here: be sure to use SALTED butter in this recipe! There is no other salt so if you use unsalted butter the bars will taste bland.
These bars come together in a flash, a good thing indeed when it is as hot as it has been here in Pittsburgh with temperatures in the mid to upper 80's. In fact, it took me more time to prepare the pan than it did to measure and mix the crust. As you can see, there's our good friend, baking parchment, in the pan. Because of the amount of brown sugar in the crust and topping, the edges of these bars can be quite stubborn to release from the pan, even with buttering and flouring the pan as directed in the recipe. With parchment paper to the rescue, the finished bars come out easily and cleanly.
After mixing together the crust ingredients, press the crust into the prepared pan and blind bake the crust for about 20 minutes. Then spread on your strawberry preserves and sprinkle on the topping. Return to the oven to bake for another 25 minutes. Once the bars are cool, drizzle on the almond icing. The almond flavoring in the icing together with the almond flavoring in the topping are what put the "marzipan" in these bars.
And there you are, strawberry marzipan bars. Can I get you something to drink with these cookies? Coffee? Tea? Maybe a glass of ice cold milk? Enjoy!