Thursday, August 30, 2012

Easy Graham Cracker Almond Bars

Oh boy, do I love how easy these bars are to make. Well, I love how good they taste even more, but their easiness comes in a close second on my happiness list. One hardly even has to measure anything. Nor does one have to do anything tricky. These are easy, easy, easy!

This recipe came from an issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. I really didn’t change anything in my version below, except to point out that the amount of graham crackers you need is just one of the plastic-wrapped, brick-shaped packages inside a box. I also scaled down the sliced almonds ever so slightly, just so the amount you need can be purchased in a supermarket in a conveniently available package. At least I found a name brand package in that size. (If you cannot, just measure out 1 ¾ to 2 cups from the package or bulk purchase you have.) Since the required can of sweetened condensed milk is also commonly available, you’ll only have to measure the salt. And let’s be honest, a couple pinches will do.

This recipe is a great gateway into sweets for a novice baker. I think it would be a good one for kids to get involved with as well. I used a food processor to make the graham cracker crumbs, but you could put them in a zip-top bag and crush them with your hands or with a rolling pin. I made my crumbs finer than I needed to. You could make yours crumblier, which would make them even easier for little hands to help with pulverizing.

These bars have a wonderfully complex flavor and texture for how easy they are to make. The sliced almonds lay themselves down in crunchy horizontal layers that are surrounded by a chewy baked graham cracker crumb and condensed milk emulsion. They’re quite sweet and a little caramel-y and, for me anyway, utterly addictive. I have a hard time eating just one of these. In fact, we ate these so quickly, I almost neglected to photograph them in the daylight.

I think there must be many, many ways this recipe could be varied. I’m already thinking they could be turned into s’mores bars by substituting mini marshmallows and chocolate chips for the almonds. Or one could make something decadent (that my husband wouldn’t eat) by using coconut and chocolate. Since graham crackers are a nice blank canvas for other flavors on their own or in other forms, I think this basic recipe could be too. And, these bars are so easy, trying different options should be nearly effortless.


By the way, have I mentioned that this recipe is really easy?

Graham Cracker Almond Bars
Adapted from Martha Stewart Every Day Food magazine

1 inner wrapped package graham crackers (about 5 ounces or 150 grams)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces (about 1 ¾ cups) sliced almonds, divided
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  Crush or pulverize in a food processor the graham crackers until they are coarse crumbs.

3.  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, about 1 ¼ cups almonds and salt. Stir until the graham cracker crumbs are well moistened.

4.  Spread the graham cracker mixture evenly into to the prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup almonds.  Press the almonds gently into the batter mixture.

5.  Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

6.  When cool, remove from the pan and remove the parchment paper.  Cut into squares to serve.

Makes about 12-16 servings.  Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.

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