12 Days of Cookies: Cherry Almond Bars

Baking instructor, Nancy Burgeson makes her cherry almond bars and pairs them with Bridgeman’s chocolate ice cream.

½ cup butter, softened                            
1 cup  granulated sugar
1 egg                                                 
½ tsp  almond extract
1 Tbsp cherry juice                                   
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder                                
¼ tsp  salt
pink food coloring                                                
milk for brushing over dough

For icing:                  

1 cup powdered sugar                                
¼ tsp almond extract                       
pink food coloring                                                   
1 Tbsp (or more) milk
½ cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped       

Preheat oven to 325°. Onto a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the butter for a minute or two until it’s nicely soft and creamy; add sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, cherry juice and almond extract; stir to combine. Add flour mixture and mix gently until well combined.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions; form each portion into a roll about 12 inches long. Place 2 rolls 4 to 5 inches apart on 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Using the heel of your palm, gently press each roll to flatten it so that it’s about 3 inches wide. Brush the flattened dough with a bit of milk and sprinkle generously with chopped almonds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. Remove cookie sheets from the oven and, while the dough is still warm, cut each piece crosswise on the diagonal into strips about 1 inch wide. Let cool a bit on the pans, then transfer to a cookie rack to fully cool.

Make almond icing: Stir together sifted powdered sugar and extract; add milk and pink coloring until the icing is a good consistency for drizzling. Spoon the icing over the cooled cookies in a back-and-forth pattern.