Cherry Almond Coconut Bars
For the bottom crust (adapted from this recipe):
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground toasted almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch cake pan (or line with foil and butter the foil). To make the shortbread, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, flour, almonds, granulated sugar and salt and process until small lumps form. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until the shortbread is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
For the jam and coconut layers:
1 cup good cherry preserves or jam, pureed to be smooth (use more for a more moist bar)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sweeted shredded coconut
To make the coconut layer, combine the cream and coconut in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat slightly. Allow the mixture to boil until thick and soft, approximately 5-6 minutes.
Once the bottom crust layer has cooled slightly spread an even layer of the coconut cream mixture over the entire crust. Top this with an evenly spread layer of the pureed preserves. Top this with the crumb mixture below.
For the crumb topping (adapted from this recipe):
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick or 4 ounces)
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter, egg yolk, almond extract and enough of the cream at a time to bring the dough together but remain crumbly – sprinkle the layer over the jam and coconut layers. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until top is golden. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Cool completely before cutting into squares.