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Strawberry Macadamia Shortbread Bars

Strawberry Macadamia Shortbread Bars
Macadamia nuts are a delicious, buttery nut that is wonderful to work with in the kitchen. The nuts go well with many flavors, but most of the time we only see them paired with white chocolate in batches of cookies. While I love a good white chocolate mac nut cookie, it’s nice to give macadamia nuts a chance to be the star in other types of baked goods, too. These Strawberry Macadamia Shortbread Bars use plenty of macadamia nuts to add flavor and texture to a tender shortbread bar. The mac nuts are chopped and scattered throughout the dough – a dough that is used to make both the base and the topping of these bars. The naturally buttery nuts are highlighted by the buttery cookie dough, and they make a delicious contrast for the strawberry jam filling that sits between the two layers of shortbread.

One thing that I love about these bars is that they are very easy to make. I prepare the dough in my food processor and it comes together in just a minute or two. It’s so easy, you just might find yourself making bar cookies like these a lot more often! If you don’t have a food processor, you can make the dough with a hand-mixer, chopping the macadamia nuts up by hand instead of using the blade of the food processor to break them down. If you are using a hand mixer, start on a slow setting to ensure that the dry ingredients don’t fly out of the bowl as you incorporate the butter.

You can’t go wrong with strawberry jam in these bars, however it isn’t the only type of jam that you can use. Raspberry jam and tangy marmalade also make good filling options, and a tropical fruit jam – such as pineapple – is a great pairing with the macadamia nuts. This recipe makes a generous batch because the bars can be cut into small portions and the bars keep very well after baking, so you’ll be able to snack on them for several days. They also freeze well, just in case you want to store some for later.

Strawberry Macadamia Shortbread Bars

Strawberry Macadamia Shortbread Bars
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
3/4 cup strawberry jam/preserves

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and macadamia nuts. Pulse until macadamia nuts are coarsely chopped. Add in butter and egg and pulse until mixture comes together into a soft, crumbly dough.
Set aside approximately 2 cups of the mixture, then pour the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press down gently, but firmly, into an even layer.
In a small bowl, stir strawberry jam until it has a spreadable consistency. Spread strawberry jam over the base layer. Sprinkle remaining dough, breaking it up into crumbles with your fingertips, evenly over the top of the jam layer.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool bars in the pan before slicing.

Makes 20-24 bars.

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