I love the taste of almond, especially almond extract added into baked goods, but it seems to be a flavor that isn't often used anymore. And as for almond paste, I can honestly say I've never used it. So when I saw the recipe for Almond, Apricot, and White Chocolate Decadence Bars, I knew I had to try them. And they turned out much more flavorful and rich than I would have expected for a Betty Crocker recipe. Some issues I had: don't cook the sugar cookie base too long, or it gets really dark by the end; the almond paste is pretty dry, so a regular electric mixer doesn't really cut it, but if you have a KitchenAid with paddle attachment, it might work better; all of the white chocolate chips don't necessarily melt with just the heat of the hot cream, I had to heat the whole thing a little longer.
Almond, Apricot, and White Chocolate Decadence Bars
1 pouch sugar cookie mix
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) can almond paste
½ cup granulated sugar
1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots, finely chopped
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 (11-ounce) bag Ghirardelli white baking chips
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sliced almonds
Heat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Spread the dough in the bottom of an ungreased 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until set. Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the almond paste and sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until crumbly but blended. Add the apricots; beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream cheese, eggs, and lemon juice; beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour over the warm cookie base. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set. Cool 30 minutes.
Place baking chips in a small bowl. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the whipping cream just to boiling over low heat, stirring occasionally; pour over baking chips. Let stand 1 minute. Stir until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour and spread over the filling. Sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until set.