Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars

I love almond extract more than almonds themselves. I could bathe in it.

And I can eat frosting that’s made with almond extract by the spoonful.

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars - Easy, buttery shortbread is topped with cream cheese..mmm! Plus irresistible almond frosting!!

Although it doesn’t take almond extract for me to eat frosting by the spoonful, it’s the literal icing on the cake for these easy, no-mixer, one-bowl layered bars.

There’s a buttery shortbread crust that’s topped with a cream cheese and almond extract-based filling before frosting the bars and adding slivered almonds. They add great texture and boost the overall almond flavor.

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars - Easy, buttery shortbread is topped with cream cheese..mmm! Plus irresistible almond frosting!!

The filling is slightly tangy from the cream cheese and offsets the sweetness of the frosting.

Halve the frosting portion of the recipe if you’re not a huge frosting fan because it’s pretty sweet. However, halving the frosting isn’t something I personally ever do. I usually want to double it.

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars - Easy, buttery shortbread is topped with cream cheese..mmm! Plus irresistible almond frosting!!

The same goes for the almond extract. I love it and I used 2 teaspoons in the filling and the frosting and the bars are packed with powerful almond flavor.

If you prefer almond-scented rather than almond-front-and-center, halve the amount of extract in both the filling and frosting.

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars - Easy, buttery shortbread is topped with cream cheese..mmm! Plus irresistible almond frosting!!

What I really like about the bars is that they look and taste fancy-schmancy, but are easy and straightforward to make. The best kind of recipe.

Aside from the one bar I sampled, I donated the pan to a fundraiser bake sale. I got an email from the woman who was running it asking me if I had the recipe because she was being asked for it. Loved that.

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars - Easy, buttery shortbread is topped with cream cheese..mmm! Plus irresistible almond frosting!!

Print Recipe

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars

Although it doesn’t take almond extract for me to enjoy frosting by the spoonful, it's the literal icing on the cake for these easy, no-mixer, one-bowl layered bars. There’s a buttery shortbread crust that’s topped with a cream cheese and almond extract-based filling before frosting the bars and adding slivered almonds. The filling is slightly tangy from the cream cheese and offsets the sweetness of the frosting. Halve the frosting portion of the recipe if you’re not a huge frosting fan because it's pretty sweet. I love almond extract and I used 2 teaspoons in the filling and the frosting and the bars are packed with a powerful almond flavor, but if you less intensity, halve the amount of extract in both the filling and frosting.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: about 31 to 34 minutes, divided

Total Time: about 3+ hours, for cooling and setting up

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional or to taste

Filling
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened (lite is okay)
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 teaspoons almond extract (I used 2)

Frosting
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of 1 stick)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons almond extract
about 2 tablespoons cream or milk
about 1/4 cup slivered almonds (mine were untoasted)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Crust - In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or your hands, cut butter into dry ingredients until evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form. The softer the butter is, the quicker and easier it is.
  3. Turn mixture out into prepared pan and hard-pack it with a spatula or hands to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer. Bake crust for about 15 minutes, or just until barely set (pan is going back in oven so don't overbake or crust will be crumbly). While crusts bakes, prepare the filling.
  4. Filling - In a large bowl (same one is fine, just wipe out with a paper towel), add all filling ingredients, and whisk by hand or beat with an electric mixer until smooth and combined; it's okay filling is on the thin side. I prefer a stronger almond flavor and use 2 teaspoons extract, if you don't, scale the amount back.
  5. After crust has baked for about 15 minutes, remove pan from the oven, and evenly pour filling mixture over the crust. Filling will likely slide into place, but lightly spread it into corners using a spatula if necessary.
  6. Return pan to oven and bake for about 16 to 19 minutes, or until filling is no longer jiggly in the center and edges have begun to set up; filling will set up more as it cools.
  7. Remove pan from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  8. Frosting - In a large bowl (same one is fine, just wipe out with a paper towel), add the butter, confectioners' sugar, almond extract, and slowly drizzle in the cream while whisking by hand or beating with an electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency.
  9. Evenly frost the bars, smoothing frosting lightly with a spatula as necessary.
  10. Evenly sprinkle with slivered almonds.
  11. Allow bars to cool in pan uncovered for at least 1 hour (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so frosting can set up. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days. I'm comfortable storing frosted items at room temp; store in the fridge if you're not, noting bars could become overly dry in the fridge, or store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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57 comments

  1. What a great recipe…I love the taste of almond in pastries…It reminds me of all those Italian cookie trays from the holidays. Which I can’t believe are right around the corner…thankfully you’ve given me many recipes that should cover me through New Years!!!

  2. I agree, almond extract is the best!!! Me and my sister frequent a bakery for bars that look exactly like these, and I always wished I could get the recipe somehow, so thank you so much!!!!

  3. It’s funny you said you love almond extract you could bathe in it. I adore almond extract – always rub a little bit on my hands after adding to the recipe. Also, it’s amazing in brownies!
    This shortbread looks so good! I wish I could have a piece with my morning coffee right now! Pinned!

    • I’ve never tried it in brownies! Only lighter-colored desserts like shortbread bars, lighter cookies, nothing chocolaty…what have I been thinking! That’s a must-try! Thanks for the tip :) And I love that you rub it on your hands, too!

  4. Oh Averie, you managed to make something easy like that to look and sound phenomenal :)

    If my fridge just say: Yes I have Cream Cheese inside me! I would totally run downstairs and preheat my oven :P

    greets, Kevin

  5. I share your love for almond extract Averie. One time my little boy taped the little almond extract bottle to his face so he could smell it all day! Boy are these beautiful bars calling my name right now!

  6. I am excited to try these bars. I feel in love with that almond taste the first time I made your French Almond Cookie Cake. I make peach glaze and I can only make it if someone else is around to share it with or I will be too tempted to eat far more than I should. These bars are going to be another delicious dessert. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, these bars are so reminiscent of that French Almond Cookie Cake! Same flavor profile, the whole thing, just so many similarities and glad you tried that cake and loved it, and now love almond extract! :)

  7. I share your love for almond extract! We threw it out after Kelsie’s tree nut allergy diagnosis. :-( I miss it something terrible! I may have to sneak and buy it and make these when she spends the night at a friends house! :-)

  8. I’m drooling on the keyboard as we speak! I love frosting, I can eat it, as you say, by the spoonfull. Frosting, Nutella and condensed sweetened milk. I’ll dream tonight of your almond shortbread bars ;) Thanks for posting it!

  9. These bars slay me…I won’t be able to rest until I make them Averie, you knocked it out of the park with these!

    • I commented on your FB comment (thank you for always being so good with that…I am…not!) but knowing what I know about your love of shortbread cookies, and just the flavors you tend to bake with, yes these have you written all over them! If you do try them, LMK!

  10. I love almond extract too, it is so so good in cookies and bars. These look delicious, I love all the almond flavour and the shortbread crust. They sound amazing!

  11. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this recipe! I absolutely adore almond extract and this is definitely going to be made. Thank you!

  12. Yum! Almond extract really can make a dessert extra special. These sound delicious!

  13. My first thought upon seeing these was wow–so pretty! The snow white frosting dotted with the sliced almonds did it for me. Almond extract in the cream cheese filling sounds heavenly…and again….oh that frosting!!!

  14. I’ve eaten a few different types of shortbread style cookies since I was a kid. There was a flavor that I just loved about them but couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Fast forward to when I started experimenting with baking and bought my first bottle of almond extract. Boom. It smelled exactly how those cookies tasted!

    These look so good, Averie! And I’d love to jump into a bucket of that icing. Yum!

  15. These look delicious! I am a frosting gal myself. Never halve. Never, ever, ever.

  16. I was just thinking today that I needed some almond extract in my life. Frosting? Needed, stat. 2 teaspoons, girl, now I really know why we are friends. :)

  17. Isn’t almond extract the most amazing thing ever?! Sometimes, even when I zero plans to use it, I take it out and take whiff. Such an amazing smell. I am here to report that it tastes nasty straight from the bottle. Somethings you just gotta try to believe. These bars look gorgeous and they are packed full of almond extract! Woohoo!

  18. Oh, how I love almond! People don’t bake with it enough. Thanks for thinking of these, Averie! I love my almond front, center, and everywhere it can be!

  19. Mmmm, almond and cream cheese is a wonderful combination. And it’s a one bowl wonder? You’re killing me, Averie!

  20. Almond extract is the best! I find the flavor to be elegant, and I always associate it with the holidays. Pinned!

  21. I am the same way with almond paste too. It is so good and the smell makes me cave!

  22. These look decadent and amazing! I add almond extract to hot chocolate :)

  23. These look perfect , Averie. And I’m with you on the almond extract. If there was an almond extract perfume, I’d wear it! :) Pinned!

  24. I just came across these and my mouth is watering! I can’t resist any kind of shortbread dessert and I also love love love almond shortbread. I’ll hopefully get to try this recipe sometime over the holidays. I made some ‘festive’ holiday shortbread cookies this weekend, they’re posted on my blog :)

    Sydney
    http://Www.forloveofbaking.com

  25. These are just the most perfect shortbread bars ever. Love the combination of almond and cream cheese, I can only imagine how good they would taste!

  26. mmmm *swooned* this looks and sounds delicious

  27. Genious. Oh.my.gosh. This looks so finger-licking delicious!

  28. Looks delicious! When it comes to frosting, more is better than less!

  29. Bathing in almond extract sounds like a really great idea. Maybe I’ll put some in a vaporizer, too?

    These look just lovely–creamy and crunchy and cookie all at once!

  30. I absolutely love almond extract and your shortbread bars look so delicious. Could two with maybe one or two. Pinned!!

  31. Oh heavens, I could totally bathe in almond extract, too! It smells heavenly and tastes even better. I don’t blame you for going crazy for almond extract in this recipe, girl. WANT.

  32. How would you go about freezing them? Say I want to bring them to Thanksgiving, but I want to make them today (Saturday), would they keep, or should I freeze them?

    • Hmmm, it’s on the fence. I would say if you could make them Tues, that would be fine and just serve as-is, but today is still like 5+ days out. I guess I would freeze them BEFORE glazing them. You have to do that the night before or morning-of. So it’s sort of almost not even worth it to make the base in advance since it’s so easy, but do whatever you think is best.

  33. Can this recipe be doubled and baked in a 13 x 9 dish or would it be too thick? I’ve made the 8 x 8 size several times and it’s just never enough!!

  34. I know this post is older, but I made these bars last weekend … and they were yummy! One issue though – have you ever had problems with the filling separating from the shortbread? They were kind of difficult to eat! Maybe I baked the filling too long? 

    :-)

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad they were overall yummy! I haven’t had that issue and I think you answered your own question; I’d bake a bit less and I think you’ll be all set!

  35. Dear averie,
    I made these today. I have never gotten so many compliments ever for something I have baked.

    Thank you for a great recipe.

    Enjoy your week

  36. Can i use almond or while wheat flour instead of white flour? Planning on making these tomorrow for the Superbowl!!!

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