Almond Bars

One of my all-time FAVORITES, these Almond Bars are moist and chewy and SO DELICIOUS!!
Contributed by Cheryl Newendorp and published in the Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook 2010

1 cup butter, softened
1 pkg almond paste (about 1 cup)
2-1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Optional:  1/2 cup slivered almonds (I never add these)

*In a large bowl, cream butter, almond paste and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and extract.  Gradually add the flour just until moistened.

*Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining sugar; top with almonds (if using).

*Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean.  Don't overbake!!  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into squares.