Almond bars, also called Bishops Fingers, are tender cream cheese shortbread cookie bars topped with toasted almonds and a creamy almond glaze. These cookies are for true almond lovers only!
What are almond bars or Bishops fingers?
Let’s start with a definition, because if you’ve never had these cookies, you’re going to want to fix that! Almond bars are the best buttery Christmas shortbread bars with that insanely delicious almond extract flavor and crunchy roasted almonds on top. The almond glaze on these cookies is something I like to add to my coffee the entire month of December, but maybe that’s too much information.
My friend Heather asked me for a recipe for almond bars after trying one on the internet that didn’t work out for her. Since shortbread is one of my big loves in life (see: chocolate shortbread and honey shortbread that tastes like the best version of a graham cracker your’e ever had!), I happily baked these for her!
If you love marzipan and all things scented and flavored with almond extract, this recipe is for you. There’s something so Christmassy about almond extract and freshly toasted nuts. These remind me of my Almond Horns, and now these almond bars are going to be on the holiday cookie table next to them!
How to make almond bars:
- In a small bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until a crumbly dough starts to form.
- Shortbread crust can be a little crumbly, but when you squeeze it in your hand, it comes together. This is the perfect texture for the crust. It makes for a light, tender but rich crust.Press the dough firmly into the lined 8×8″ pan with your hands into an even layer.
- Brush the milk on top of the crust with a pastry brush, and sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the top feels dry and the edges of the crust are just starting to turn golden brown, but do not let these bars brown at all. Also important: let the bars cool in the pan–they’re very delicate when warm and would break if you moved them out of the pan at this point.
- After an hour or so, remove the bars from the pan to a wire rack. Mix together the almond glaze, and drizzle over the bars before cutting and serving.
These almond bars are great sliced into little sticks and wrapped into gift bags with a ribbon. They’re sturdy enough to dunk in hot chocolate, and the flavor of almonds plus chocolate is next level!
Other Christmas Cookies you might like:
- 1/4 cup (56 grams; half a stick) butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons (22 grams) cream cheese, softened (not whipped cream cheese)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) almond extract
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (112 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (35 grams) sliced almonds
- splash of milk for adhering almonds
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon (~1 mL) almond extract
- 3-4 teaspoons (15-20 mL) milk, more or less
- Preheat the oven to 325. Ensure a rack is in the center position of the oven. Gather your ingredients.
- Spray an 8x8” square pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Alternatively, you can use a non-stick baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the softened butter and cream cheese. Slowly stream in the sugar while continuing to beat.
- Next, add the almond extract and beat to combine.
- Finally, sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt evenly over the bowl.
- Beat until this mixture is homogenous and crumbly, however it won’t combine into a dough, just a crumbly mixture. It should stick together when you grab a handful and press it in your hands. Pour the dough mixture into the prepared pan, and use your fingers to press it flat to the edges of the pan. Pack it firmly. The heat of your hands will help the dough come together.
- Next, brush a small amount of milk on top of the dough, and sprinkle the sliced almonds on top. Press them lightly to stick to the dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the top of the dough is dry and the edges are just starting to turn light golden brown, but do not let these bars brown at all.
- Let the bars cool for at least 30-60 minutes, or until it’s easy to cut them into sticks and remove them from the pan. To do this, slice the bars in quarters, and then cut 3 pieces from each quarter, for a total of 1 dozen cookie sticks.
- When the bars are cool, whisk together the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk together until it’s thick enough to drizzle on top. Try to use enough milk so that the mixture is easy to drizzle, but not too much that the glaze doesn’t dry on the cookies.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 91mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 1g