Swedish Almond Jam Bars

The winter pantry clean out continues at Casa de Slavik.  We've been making good progress through the jars on the shelves and the bags in the freezer this winter and spring, though I am now realizing that I didn't have to be quite so stingy in rationing the preserved garden goodies earlier in the winter.  With another garden season knocking at the door, I've got to make room for next round of jams, salsas, and frozen veggies.
And at the rate the rhubarb is growing, that could be a lot earlier than usual this year, so I need to free up some of those jam jars!  Luckily, my husband helped the cause this week.  It was his turn to provide a little something sweet for a parish council meeting, so I had the perfect excuse to find a recipe to use up a jar of jam.

This recipe caught my attention right away just because of the name.  I'm always game for a little shout out to my Swedish heritage, but I also knew that any recipe I would use for a jar of raspberry jam would have to include almonds as well.   Almond and raspberry is just one of those flavor combinations that I love.  It's classic, sweet, and oh so delicious.
I often see recipes with multiple steps and worry that it will be incredibly time intensive, but this one was surprisingly quick and easy.  The bars turned out perfectly golden - a nice compliment to the bright red raspberry jam.  They appear to have been a success at the meeting as well, as Mike returned home with only a few bars left in the pan.  My only disappointment is that the almond flavor was somewhat lacking.  Next time I make this recipe, I think I'll try adding just a tiny splash of almond extract to the crust - just enough to add a little more almond essence to the whole bite.
Swedish Almond Jam Bars
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup raspberry jam
3 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sliced almonds (divided)
powder sugar for dusting

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy [here's where I'd add just a tiny splash of almond extract], then gradually add in the flour.  Press the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and bake 18-20 minutes at 350, until lightly browned. 

While the crust is baking, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, then beat on high until peaks become stiff.  Fold in 1/2 cup of the almonds.  

Assemble by spreading the jam over the baked crust, then spread egg whites and almonds over the jam.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup almonds and bake another 18-22 minutes at 350, until golden.  

When cool, cut and dust with powdered sugar

Recipe adapted from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

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