The final thing I made in 2011 that I wanted to share with you was Chocolate Almond Graham Bar Mix. This was another recipe that I made as gifts (from the Holiday Gifts from a Jar booklet that I mentioned before). One of the things I particularly like about this recipe is that it doesn't call for many of the usual ingredients you bake with, like flour.
This looked like an incredibly easy recipe to make, and it certainly was. I tested it and enjoyed it, but I neglected to take pictures and wanted to improve on the results.
Tonight I made them again. Here's what I'm eating right now:
Chocolate Almond Graham Bar Mix
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds (for topping)
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour 3/4 cup crumb mixture into a 1-quart jar and pack well. Add 3/4 cup toasted almonds, chocolate chips, remaining toasted almonds, and remaining crumb mixture, packing well after each layer. Place 1/2 cup topping almonds in plastic food storage bag; close with twist tie and add to jar. Seal jar.
1 jar Chocolate Almond Graham Bar Mix
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Remove bag of almonds from jar. Pour remaining contents of jar into bowl; mix well. Add sweetened condensed milk and almond extract; stir until mixed. Lightly press into greased 8-inch square pan. Top with nuts from bag. Bake 32-38 minutes in 350F oven, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and edges are golden.
Honestly, these bars will be a little tougher to cut if you overbake them. I prefer my cookie bars on the chewy side, so I baked mine for exactly 32 minutes and cut them while soft, although the original recipe says to cool completely and then cut into bars.
These dense, chewy bars are amazing while warm since you get bites of gooey chocolate. The almond extract heightens the toasted almond flavor; you can substitute vanilla extract, but it certainly won't have the same impact. I like the juxtaposition of crunchy almonds with the chewiness of everything else.
It's an incredibly simple recipe to make, even for non-bakers. I'm pretty sure I'd make this recipe again.