Orange Christmas Almond Bars

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pinorangealmondbarThis recipe is a variation on one that I have perfected over the last couple years, and it’sdefinitely one of my all time favorites when I need to come up with something delicious and a bit out of the ordinary. It’s highly adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand or what flavors you like.

This time of year, there are all sorts of events where refreshments are part of the fun, so having something that comes together quickly is so great – and these almond bars are in the pan, baking in 5 minutes. They have a rich flavor, chewy texture, and the combo of dried fruit with chocolate chips is just heavenly.

Here is one of my favorite tips for fast holiday baking – toast nuts ahead of time! I use toasted nuts in nearly all of my recipes, because they have more flavor and stay nice and crunchy, even when baked inside something. This time of year, I have toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and peanuts on hand, so that when I have time to whip up a batch of something, I don’t have to stop and toast and cool the nuts before getting on with things. It’s a serious time saver. For these cookies, you need toasted, sliced almonds, so try to get those taken care of before you start the rest of the recipe.

4 ounces butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons 3X vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
1/3 cup diced candied orange peel
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips


I just use a wooden spoon to get these mixed up – no need to haul out even a hand mixer for these! Preheat the oven to 350º, and generously butter an 8 by 8 inch pan, or a mini muffin tin, or a couple of brownie pans.

Stir the melted butter and sugar until completely incorporated. One at a time, stir in the eggs, the orange zest and the extracts.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix until combined

Stir in the almonds, candied peel and chocolate chips.

Spread batter in the prepared pan, or divide evenly between the spots in the muffins time, or brownie pans. [will make 24 mini muffin size, or about 18 in a brownie pan]

Bake orange almond bars about 20 to 25 minutes in the 8 x 8 pan, 10 minutes in the mini muffin pan, or 13 to 15 minutes in brownie pans. Test with a toothpick, which should come out clean when inserted near the center. Cool on a rack [remove from the pan if using the muffin tin or brownie pan], and cut into around 1 dozen bars.

These keep very nicely for at least a week at room temperature, longer in the fridge or freezer.

You can vary the nuts and fruit as I mentioned at the beginning of the post – any kind of dried fruit in combination with just about any variety of nut will work, so long as the flavors work together. Get creative and have fun with it!  Enjoy your Orange Christmas Almond Bars!!


Donalyn is a long time food blogger - this is what she has to say about blogging for us: "My husband and I are blissful empty-nesters, enjoying the good life in rural Upstate NY. We grow a huge garden and are always looking for new challenges, the latest of which is brewing beer from our own home grown hops. My take on food is to use the freshest, most local food you can find and give it plenty of flavor. That is where The Great American Spice Company comes in. I've used their products for years, and I'm thrilled to be sharing some of our favorite recipes on their blog."
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