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Another Recipe Kitchen Tested by the Party Saviors

Almond and Apple Cream Cheese Bars

CATEGORY: Dessert
Fresh apples, chopped almonds, cream cheese and just a touch of tangy lemon in every bite...mmmmm mmmmm good!
Almond_Apple_Cream_Cheese_Bars
SERVINGS: 16 bars
PREP TIME:  30 min.
COOK TIME: 63-70 min.
INGREDIENTS
CRUST and TOPPING:
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, well softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, well softened
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
FILLING:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 lb. (2 medium) Braeburn, Gala or Rome apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8 inch slices.  Should yield 2-1/2 cups
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (cut to measure 9"x14") so that the long end extends beyond the edges of the pan.  You will use the exteneded parchment paper to remove the bars after they have baked and cooled.  Butter the parchment paper and the unlined sides of the pan.
  2. CRUST and TOPPING: Set aside, in a small bowl, 2 Tbs. of flour. In another small bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour and the salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with and electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add the cream cheese and almond extract and beat on medium until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed, about 1 minute.  Add 1/4 cup each of the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium speed until blended, scraping as needed.  Add the flour-salt mixture and 1/3 cup of the almonds and beat on medium low just until the flour is absorbed and the mixture starts to come together in clumps. Set aside 2/3 cup of the dough.  Press the remaining dough into the prepared pan in a thin, even layer.  Prick it all over with a fork and bake until the crust is golden around the edges, 18-20 minutes. While the crust is baking, add the 2 Tbs reserved flour and the remaining 2 Tbs each of the granulated and brown sugars to the reserved dough.  Mix with your fingertips until well combined and then squeeze the dough into one ball.
  3. FILLING:  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until combined, scrape bowl as needed.  Add egg and beat until combined.  Beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt.  Spread the apple slices evenly on the bottom of crust and pour the cream cheese filling on top.  Spread the filling to completely cover the apples.  Crumble the remaining dough on top of the cream cheese filling.  Sprinkle with remaining almonds.  Bake until the topping and almonds are light golden brown, 45-50 minutes. 
  4. Let the bars cool in the pan, about 30 minutes.  Remove from the pan, using the parchment sling, and set on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Once cooled, transfer the bars, still on the parchment paper, to a cutting board. Use a metal spatula to slide between the bars a parchment to separate and slide out the parchment paper. Cut into 16 bars.