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My grandma lives in Pella, Iowa, a unique little town in the middle of the state. It was founded by Dutch immigrants and this little town has more than embraced their heritage. It is basically an old-fashioned, miniature Dutch village in the middle of the Iowa farmlands. The town square has all Dutch storefronts, many of the people in the town still speak Dutch and they even built a full-size working windmill a few years ago that grinds flour. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Pella each year for tulip time in the Spring. You have to see it to believe it.

One of the most famous attractions in town is Jaarsma bakery. At tulip time, visitors line up around the block to buy sweet rolls, spice cookies and other Dutch pastries and breads. This past week during Thanksgiving, my trip to Jaarsma resulted in the immediate consumption of two donuts, a sweet roll and an almond cookie.

Many Dutch sweets (my favorites) are made with almond paste. It comes wrapped in flaky pastry dough in the form of Dutch letters, sandwiched inside buttery cookies or in bars. Below is an easy recipe from my sister. Give it a try or order Dutch sweets the easy way by visiting Jaarsma online. Heel Lekker!

Almond Bars
12 oz. almond paste
3 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
3 eggs,
1 1/2 t almond flavoring
1 small packet sliced almonds

Mix almond paste and butter together. Add eggs, flour, sugar & extract. Mix together. Put in greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan and sprinkle with extra sugar and sliced almonds. Press down slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges turn light brown. Cool and cut into bars.s

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38 Responses to “Delicious Dutch Almond Bars”

  1. EB Says:

    I’ve had something similar to these in Solvang, CA. It’s a ‘Danish Town’ off the freeway, on the way to Santa Barbara. Windmills, a “Danish Days” queen, Danish themes inns… the whole deal. On one trip to So Cal I pulled into one of the windmill fronted shops to pick up a quick gift for my mother… and promptly locked my keys in the car! I had to spend 3 hours waiting for AAA. No problem. I hung out in the bakery, where the local girls (mostly Mexican-American) worked… all dressed up in little dutch hats and aprons. I tried almost one of everything they sold in those next 3 hours. Including some amazing almond crusted bars that look very similar to your sisters. I should give these a try and relive those pastry stuffed hours…

  2. kickpleat Says:

    holy smoly, this looks awesome. my mother in law (who is dutch) makes a very dense and very delicious almond cake…but i’ll bet this kicks it outta the water. i’m definitely going to make this!

  3. Cakespy Says:

    Quit playing games with my heart! Oh, this looks great. I love having bar-pastries like this for breakfast. (guiltily admitted)

  4. Casey Says:

    mmm I too love anything with almond paste in it. There’s nothing tastier in my opinion. I’ll be trying this recipe for the holidays.

    How funny that they also have Tulip Time in Iowa, I never knew!…I grew up with it from living in Holland, MI. My dad would love the town of Pella, I’ll have to tell him about it. The man has been wanting to build his own windmill for years ;)

  5. mansuetude Says:

    This looks delicious.
    If you all don’t stop posting sweets
    and treats on the blogs
    I am going to have to unplug computer
    until after the holidays…

  6. Judith Says:

    How funny! I have a classmate from Pella (I go to the law school at Iowa). These look great!

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  8. Jessica Says:

    a friend of mine gave me a recipe that looks similar, but in dutch they are called ‘Jan Hagel’. They taste kind of like short bread to me. A friend of mind from south africa said that to her they tasted like ‘Milk Tart’. Anyway, it looks tasty!

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  10. QL7 Says:

    I just made these. My friends gobbled them up. Personally, I thought they were very pale in appearance and had a “not quite baked enough” taste. I have never baked with almond paste before, so maybe they’re OK. My friends sure thought so! I’m not sure I’d make them for myself! Maybe too much almond paste?

  11. helene Says:

    love love love almond bars, lived in Iowa for a year and got to see tulip time in Pella and in Orange City :)

  12. Maddy Says:

    These look awesome but I don’t know what went wrong :(
    How long do they need to cool
    I baked them for a bit longer and cooled them for two hours but they are very liquid like from I would say the butter
    Help

  13. Jeremy Says:

    I had the same problem. What I do is turn the oven down to 250 and bake them an additional 25 minutes. I then take a creme brulee torch and touch up the top of the bars. Then they are perfect!

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  16. Brenda Says:

    I used to live in Pella Iowa and I know the bakery you are talking about. I loved the Dutch Letters and have longed for a recipe so I could make these. I just bought some almond paste from a Mennonite store and then searched for recipes using the paste. Thanks for posting this! I am excited to make them. I might even shape them into letters. :-)

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    My ex in-laws live in Pella and I would bet your Grandmother knows them.

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