Christmas cookies...How do I love thee, let me count the ways...
Almond extract... How do I also love thee, let me count those ways too...
So I know I'm not the greatest photographer, but these cookies must speak for themselves because going through the pictures, I pretty much just wanted to lick the computer screen.
And to whom do we owe the honor of this recipe (and some special thanks for those slobbery computer screens)? Well, to many people. First, to my old roommate's oma (grandmother), Carolina Hujyboom van der Wouden, (and if that's not a great name, I don't know what is). She is responsible for the authentic and original recipe for these bars (this recipe isn't quite that one, but more on that later). Second, to my old roommate's mother, Cheryl Wouden, for keeping this recipe alive and continuing the tradition. Thirdly, to my old roommate (and I hope that it is understood that when I say 'old roommate' I mean 'person who used to be my roommate, but isn't anymore' rather than 'roommate who is old'), Chaliese, who I love dearly and who you'll be hearing more about in the next day or two because it was she who first introduced me to St. Nicolas Day.
Chaliese gave me this recipe just before I got married. It had special meaning to me because I went on a mission for my church to The Netherlands. In The Netherlands the almond reigns supreme.
But before we get to the recipe we have to give one final piece of thanks to Chaliese's brother, Derek, who has a slightly americanized adaptation (at least that's what the recipe card said when Chaliese gave it to me) using almond extract instead of the original almond paste.
When I first went to make this recipe about 8 years ago, I asked my friendly neighborhood Walmart associate (male, aged approximately 19) where the almond paste could be found. He gave me that look 19-year-old male Walmart associates give to homemakers searching for things other than Cheetos, and replied that he didn't know, but he kindly showed me some almond bark, which looked fairly non-almond-y to me. So I was forced to go with the almond extract recipe and found it completely awesome. And--and here's where I come clean, Chaliese--I've just stuck with that one since. This year I'm planning to try the completely authentic recipe. But first I need to find out who in Evansville can sell me some almond paste (anybody know, by the way), so today I went with my standby. And, as usual, it was wonderful, and I committed yet again to begin bathing in almond extract.
Dutch Almond Bars--slightly Americanized
Serves me or about 30 people if I'm not around
1 C butter, melted or nearly so
2 C sugar
2 C flour
2-3 tsp almond extract, depending on how old it is (I used 1 Tbsp and wished I'd done a bit more, but I think it's clear that I have a problem in this area, isn't it?)
Sliced almonds (I used whole)
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add extract. Add flour and salt. Mix it up.
Spread in greased 9x13 inch pan. Place almonds. Bake 40-45 minutes at 300 degrees. Do not overbake. (Mine went 44 minutes and were just right.)
Merry Christmas, baby.
Or perhaps I should say,
Prettige kerstdagen, baby.