I found out this week that my Grandma’s house has been sold. It’s a strange sense of relief to see it go, and as my sister puts it, I hope the new owners end up with memories as sweet as ours. Aside from our weekly visits there as kids, I lived with Grandma for part of fourth grade and again in junior high. Her house was not only our go-to place, but also our ultimate safe place. It provided more sustenance, order, and peace than we knew to exist in the world, even in our own home. Simply put, we were happy at Grandma’s.
A rather funny trademark of Grandma was her stockpiling of household items she’d bought on sale. Her cupboards were packed neatly with vast rows of canned tuna, packs of toilet paper, bottles of dish soap, and much more. She took pride in letting her loved ones pick freely from her supplies on each visit. When I moved away after high school and would come back to town, I felt lucky to reap these benefits. On one instance, I returned to my apartment with two jumbo boxes of cornflakes: Grandma’s favorite cereal. Upon an urge to make sweets soon after, I ignored my lack of cooking experience and turned to the cornflakes for inspiration. With a salute to Grandma’s generosity, I came up with this simple little recipe.
Easy Almond Bars (makes a 9 x 13” pan, up to 24 bars)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2-3 dashes salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 10 ounces (about 6 cups) marshmallows
- 1.5-2 teaspoons almond extract
- 8 cups corn flakes
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Line a 9 x 13″ pan with foil or parchment, and oil or butter the lining. Spray or butter a large, heat-resistant spoon or spatula. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat until it barely becomes brown; quickly turn heat to low. Move the pot to coat its inner walls with the butter. Add marshmallows and let them melt, stirring occasionally. Just when marshmallows are smooth, turn off heat; stir in extract and salt (if using). Add cornflakes alternately with almonds; mix until all are coated, then quickly pour into prepared pan. Press down with buttered spoon or hands to make even. Cool and slice.
Chewy, crisp and full of amaretto essence, these scrumptious bars are a distinctive twist on a no-bake treat. Their fragrant, simple flavor is sure to please a crowd – plus they’re gluten-free. I admit that easy almond bars are far from my most extravagant creation, but they take me to a place I can’t otherwise go: Grandma’s house, with all its sweetness.
Maybe next time… These bars allow for some flexibility in measurements; i.e., you might use less extract to make them more mild, or more marshmallows if you want them really chewy. A generous dollop of almond butter would be a delicious addition to this recipe; try stirring some in just when the marshmallows have melted. Of course, the possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to nut and extract combinations. But let me not forget the ingredient Grandma loved most: chocolate. For a decadent addition, cool and cut the bars, then dip or drizzle them using melted dark, milk or white chocolate.
Yes, this is the same Grandma I wrote about before. What can I say? I love her!