I recently saw the Barefoot Contessa episode where she makes peanut butter and jelly bars and because I'm the type of person who has been known to eat peanut butter right out of the jar, the wheels starting turning in my head trying to figure out how I could make a variation that was gluten-free and sugar-free (the dairy-free part was just a bonus!).
I remembered seeing a Martha Stewart recipe for peanut butter cookies that didn't use flour and instead only used peanut butter. The cookies fluffed right up. I wondered if the same would happen with almond butter since I had some in the fridge and some sliced almonds in the pantry (that I thought would be nice on top). And wouldn't you know, it worked like a charm.
The result? These yummy sweet bread bars. (I use the term sweet bread because the texture and level of sweetness seem to match that of a traditional sweet bread or muffin.) Using almond butter instead of peanut butter and a spiced pear prune compote in place of jelly, these bars are so good with a cup of tea or coffee as a mid-afternoon snack or for a breakfast on-the-go.
Gina C's Almond Butter Sweet Bread Bars with Spiced Pear Prune Compote
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup xylitol or sweetener of your choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond flour
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a few inches hanging over the edge to use as "handles" later. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the the almond butter with a handheld mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and mix again until smooth. Add the baking soda, almond flour and vanilla. Mix well. Add the chopped almonds and fold into batter with a spatula until incorporated.
Put 3/4 of the batter in the prepared baking dish and smooth with an offset spatula. The batter will be smooth and thick like natural peanut or almond butter.
Add the spiced pear prune compote in dollops all over the batter. Smooth with an offset spatula to form one solid layer. If you find 1/2 cup is not enough to cover your batter, add another 1/4 cup.
Take the reserved batter and dollop over the spiced pear prune compote. Again, with am offset spatula, smooth over to complete the final layer. It's ok if not all of the compote is covered. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Place in the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the batter.
Remove from pan using parchment "handles" and cool on a wire rack.
Cut into 16 squares and serve. Store in a an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 2 cups
2 pears, chopped
1 cup prunes, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
Splash of lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
Prep the pears and prunes accordingly.
Add all of the ingredients except the honey to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Uncover and continue to simmer for five more minutes until thick and soft. Drain liquid from pot using a sieve. Discard liquid. Transfer mixture to a mini food processor and pulse a few times to break down mixture even more. Add honey and pulse a few time more to incorporate.
Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate until use.
The compote recipe yields more than what is needed for the almond butter bar recipe. We use this delicious fruit mixture in our morning oatmeal or cream of wheat, on top of toast and as the jelly in our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
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