Almond Cream Cheese Bars — An easy, buttery shortbread crust is topped with cream cheese and irresistible almond frosting!! These cookie bars taste like something you’d buy at a bakery!
Almond & Cream Cheese Cookie 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.
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 almond shortbread 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.
The filling is slightly tangy from the cream cheese and offsets the sweetness of the 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.
What’s in the Cream Cheese Bars?
This almond bar recipe has three components: the almond shortbread crust, the cream cheese filling, and the frosting. You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Brick-style cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Almond extract
- Cream or milk
- Slivered almonds
How to Make Cream Cheese Bars
First, you’ll make the shortbread cookie crust. Simply combine all the crust ingredients in a large bowl and cut the butter into the ingredients using two forks.
Press the crust mixture into an 8×8-inch baking dish and bake at 350F until barely set.
While the crust bakes, make the cream cheese filling. To do so, whisk together all of the filling ingredients. Once the crust has baked for 15 minutes, turn the filling over top while it’s still warm.
Then, return the pan to the oven for another 19 minutes or so. Once the cream cheese cookie bars have baked, they need to cool completely before topping them with the almond frosting.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Yes, simply double the ingredients list and bake the almond bars in a 9×13-inch baking dish. The bake time should be roughly the same.
Can I Make the Bars in Advance?
Yes, but these are best within the first 48 hours of baking them. If desired, you could make the cream cheese cookie bars, freeze them, and then frost them once you’re ready to serve them. I haven’t done this myself, but it should be fine.
Tips for Making Cream Cheese Cookie Bars
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.
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.
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- 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
- 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)
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove pan from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely before 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.
- Evenly frost the bars, smoothing frosting lightly with a spatula as necessary.
- Evenly sprinkle with slivered almonds.
- 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g
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