Almond Apple Bars

Crust ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp.
2 ounces (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup almonds, finely chopped

Topping ingredients:

2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

Filling ingredients:

5 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
2-3 medium (~ 1 lb) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & cut into thin slices

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 inch square baking pan with parchment. Butter the parchment.

To make the crust:

Sift flour and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the almond and vanilla extracts and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium speed until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

On low speed, mix in the flour-salt mixture and the 1/3 cup of finely chopped almonds just until the dough comes together. It should be crumbly.

Reserve about 2/3 cup of the crust mixture (for the topping). Press the remaining dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake until light golden, about 16-18 minutes. Remove crust from the oven.

To make the topping:

While the crust bakes, make the topping by adding the flour, granulated and brown sugars to the reserved dough. Mix until well combined. It should be crumbly. Set aside topping and 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds while you make the filling.

To make the filling:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon juice and salt until well mixed.

To assemble:

Arrange the apple slices over your baked crust. Pour the cream cheese filling over the apples and gently spread the filling to cover. Crumble the topping over the filling. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake until light golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting