Apricot Almond Meringue Bars
(Maria Theresa Schnitten)
A little research taught me that schnitten means cuts or slices and often refers to layered wafers or cookies. These tasty goodies are a luscious indulgence that will quickly become one of your family's favorites, too. Begin by making the shortbread base. Lightly toast 1 1/4 cups of blanched sliced almonds--watch them because those babies burn quickly. Set aside 1/4 cup of the almonds for the topping. Place the other cup in a mini or regular food processor and pulse until ground.
In a large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to cream the butter. Add the sugar and salt and continue whipping until light and fluffy; mix in the vanilla. Separate two eggs, reserving the whites in a small bowl for the meringue. Whip the egg yolks into the butter mixture, one at a time.
Stir in the flour and ground almonds until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork it--the dough will be very soft. Use a spatula to spread it out evenly in an ungreased quarter sheet pan (9" x 13"); it should be about 1/2 inch thick. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the shortbread from the fridge and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack.
Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Make the meringue: using cleaned beaters, whip the whites until foamy, then add in the sugar. Continue whipping until the meringue has soft to firm (but not stiff) peaks.
I like to use Bonne Maman apricot preserves for these cookies--it has the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Remove any large chunks of apricot before using. Spread the apricot jam over the cooled shortbread base. With a large spoon, add the meringue in dollops; use the back of the spoon to create peaks in the meringue.
Sprinkle the reserved toasted almonds evenly over the meringue. Place back in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes (keep an eye on it!), until golden brown. Let cool completely.
Use a sharp knife to evenly cut the schnitten--you'll have 12 to 15 bars, depending on how big you cut them. Pour yourself a nice cold glass of milk and enjoy!
Makes 12 to 15 Bars:
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted and ground
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs yolks
1 cup all purpose flour
2 egg whites
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup apricot preserves, preferably Bonne Maman
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted