Sunday, December 2, 2007

Second Night Sweets

We did potluck for the the whole weekend but on our second night in Tofino, our friend Jonathan did double duty making a delicious Beef Bourguignon for dinner and these pears for dessert. Pears poached in red wine with black peppercorns to be exact and they were, quite frankly, one of the best desserts I have ever had. Jonathan spent a great deal of time living in the South of France so cooking with him was a true delight, one of which I can't wait to do more.

I had been very excited to try these almond squares ever since I came across this wonderful baking blog, Pittsburgh Needs Eated. If you love to bake this is the blog for you. I had so much baking and cooking planned for this weekend that these squares had me particularly interested. They seemed really easy to make but I knew with the amount of ground almonds they called for that they just had to be good. My only regret is that I couldn't find dried cherries but the mangoes were great and overall the squares couldn't have turned out better.


Almond Squares:
3/4 cup whole almonds, with or without skins
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, or other dried fruit
8 inch square pan lined with parchment or foil

Preheat the oven to 350. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Process the almonds with the flour in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until the almonds are finely ground. Add the salt and baking powder and pulse to mix. Set aside. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg and almond extract. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the dried fruit. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a rack. Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 16 squares. May be stored airtight for at least 1 week.

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