plum squares with marzipan crumble

We are still in Portugal, which means, look away now. We are total blissed-out bores. The ridiculous truth of this vacation is that all the planning of it went down with the other family we are with when I was neck-deep in a book deadline and my husband had a bit of extra free time earlier this summer so I outsourced 100% of the decisions to them. Thus, I knew extremely little about Portugal upon arriving here and now every turn is a surprise and I don’t want to leave. This place is stunning. The architecture is unbelievable. The people are so nice, and so kind to our rugrats. The beaches… don’t even get me started. I feel like it will take another three vacations to even see half of what we should. I want you to know that I’m up for the job.

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I obsess over benign details: how the eggs, butter and milk are kept on the counter, how dark the yolks are, the flaky swirl underneath a custard tart and how I’m ever going to recreate it, the remarkably smooth gray stoned streets, how much better gelato tastes basically anywhere in Europe, all the blissful formats of fried potatoes we’ve been served, the way it feels like not a single opportunity to make something even prettier than it already is was missed, the fact that a dinner setup like this isn’t even unusual. I like the way grownups can stay late over dinner and all the kids can find other kids to play with on the beach below, where we can see them but are freed from hovering. Also, I mean, I was just lamenting that we were out of berries for our fruititarian child when we realized there were blackberry bushes in the backyard. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen at home, but New York, feel free to step it up.

a mix of plumsbutter like petalspressed-in crustliving on the edge (made on this date)making the crumblechopping plumsmarzipan streuselsugar and flour with plums

I made these bars before I left. I overbaked them too, because real life is full of distractions. You will not because I’ve warned you. They’re very Early September-ish to me, a little heartier than the usual bowl of berries and cream, but also full of Important Holiday Weekend Things: they portable and keep well in the fridge, they’re full of seasonal fruit and the marzipan crumbles (with an opportunity for even more marzipan noted below) make them a little unique and a lot worth obsessing over if you, too, are an almond paste junkie. They’re not too sweet and a bit tart and I want you to know that we also had some brownies around that week and my husband — the biggest chocoholic I’ve ever met — finished these first. I’d press myself to find a stronger recommendation but did I mention the infinity pool in our backyard? Right, so, be back soon.

mine is overbaked; yours will not be
plum squares with marzipan crumble


One year ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce, Crispy Peach Cobbler and Corn Chowder Salad
Two years ago: Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles and Corn Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Three years ago: Almond-Crisped Peaches, Key Lime Popsicles, On Butter vs. Caramel, Butterscotch Pudding Popsicles, Pink Lemonade Popsicles and Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Four years ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes, Leek Chard and Corn Flatbread and Vanilla Custards with Roasted Blueberries
Five years ago: Zucchini Fritters, Naked Tomato Sauce and Peach Butter
Six years ago: (Now Even More) Perfect Blueberry Muffins, How to Use a Kitchen Scale and Ditch Your Measuring Cups Forever, Fresh Tomato Sauce and [Baby Food] Moroccan-ish Carrots and Yams
Seven years ago: [Tip] Storing Carrots, [Tip] Make Your Own Breadcrumbs, Cubed, Hacked Caprese, Tomato and Corn Pie, Nectarine Galette and Granola Bars
Eight years ago: Dimply Plum Cake, Crisp Rosemary Flatbread, Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint, Sour Cherry Compote, Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee, Bourbon Peach Hand Pies, Raspberry Breakfast Bars
Nine years ago: Double Chocolate Torte, White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Everyday Meatballs, Roasted Yams with Chickpeas and Yogurt and Churros
1.5 Years Ago: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops with Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
2.5 Years Ago: Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew and Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
3.5 Years Ago: French Onion Tart
4.5 Years Ago: Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble

  • Servings: 12 to 16
  • Print

I adapted these squares from this Bon Appetit recipe for a plum tart.

I baked them in this 9-inch square tart pan, which is what happens when someone gives me a Williams-Sonoma gift certificate for my birthday, but yours will be just fine in a more standard 8-inch square pan, just a tiny bit thicker. You can double this recipe and bake it in a 9×13-inch pan.

Troubled by using only half a tube (I use this brand) of almond paste? Here’s what I didn’t do this time but would next: take the remaining almond paste and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper into a thin round or square. Cut into mixed sized pieces and scatter the scraps over your parbaked crust before adding the fruit and crumble. You’ll have even more almond flavor.

Are you about to ask me the difference between marzipan and almond paste? They’re roughly the same, except marzipan has stabilizers in it making it more mold-able (for those pretty shapes and figures you’ll see in bakeries). For baking like this, you can go ahead and use almond paste straight.

  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (55 grams) sliced almonds, toasted or equivalent weight almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • Crumble
  • 2/3 cup (85 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (packed) almond paste (about 3.5 ounces or half a 7-ounce tube)
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) sliced, toasted almonds
  • Filling
  • 1 pounds plums (about 6 to 7), halved, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. This is going to make it very easy to remove the bars.

Make the crust: Combine the flour, almonds, salt, sugar and extract in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — that’s right, just keep running it; it might take 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to come together, but it will. [No food processor? Get the butter to room temperature and beat it with the sugar, then the flour and salt and mix until combined. Chilling it for 15 minutes or so will make it easier to press in.] Transfer the dough to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. For the sake of speed, transfer to a cooling rack in your freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the filing.

Make crumble: Blend flour, almond paste, sugar and salt in processor until almond paste is finely ground. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse crumbs form. Transfer crumble to bowl; mix in almonds.

Make filling: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl; toss to coat well.

Assemble squares: Sprinkle 1/2 cup prepared crumble over cooled crust. Top with plum mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumble.

Bake: Until filling bubbles thickly and top is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. If the bars brown too quickly, cover them with foil for the remaining baking time. Cool in pan. I like to hurry this (too) along in the fridge or freezer. Once firm, I’ll use the parchment sling to remove the bars and cut them more cleanly on a cutting board. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

Do ahead: These bars keep for up to a week in the fridge, longer in the freezer.

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142 comments on plum squares with marzipan crumble

  1. francescabruzzese

    These look beautiful, a little overbaked or not!!! And re: Portugal, I was thinking of planning a trip to Lisbon later this Fall…consider me now convinced!!

  2. Holly

    I recently made plum jam (the only ingredients are plums and sugar). Do you think it would work in the filling instead of the fresh plums (no more sugar required!)? If so, I am assuming I would omit the cornstarch. This recipe looks fantastic! I have zero cooking sense amd hate to waste that lovely almond paste if the jam idea won’t work.

    1. Helen in CA

      I have them. And yes……and blackberries are very full of thorns. They fight back. They also try to take over the Universe (think Sleeping Beauty & how the castle was covered w/vines? blackberries, I’m sure!)

      1. deb

        Yes! Definitely had some Tough Conversations with self about how many more thorns I was willing to remove from my hands and feet to get those last few idyllic berries. ;)

  3. Amelia

    Deb, fellow lover of almond paste, have you never tried banket (often called Dutch Letters)? It’s rolls of almond paste baked into the flakiest sugar-topped pastry crust until it oozes a little out the edges. That caramelized almond paste is probably the best part. You won’t regret finding a recipe…

  4. Jennifer

    Portugal is glorious. Went last July and was also floored. Re: pasteles de nata, was also eager to reproduce but haven’t yet attempted. Found a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria, though.

  5. choclette

    Neck deep in a book deadline sounds exciting. Love the colour of the gorgeous plum layer in the middle of these. I’m a total sucker for marzipan too. Enjoy your holiday.

  6. Katie

    I was in Portugal a few years ago and loved it, especially the food. I have been searching for pasteis de nata since coming back to the US and have not found anything even close. I’ve also found them hard to re-create with that crisp crust and slightly burnt top. Would love it if you could find a way to make them at home!

    1. Debbie

      Not sure where you live but there are several Portuguese bakeries on Long Island that sell them. In Mineola and Farmingville. Also in Fall River, MA.

  7. Erin

    We went to Portugal last year and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I hope you get a chance to see Sintra or Belem, they’re both near Lisbon and were favorites of ours. Portugal has a pastry culture to rival France but I feel like they fly so under the radar. And yes, friendliest people ever!

  8. Sarah

    Ah ha! Well, if you’re in that area, then, I would very much recommend the following:
    • O Teodosio this is the least likely looking place you will see, it’s enormous, seems to be on the edge of an industrial estate but it fills quickly in the evening and the grilled chicken is out of this world. There are two choices; spicy or not. They’re both amazing.
    • Also; for a (slightly) posher dinner, with amazing prawns and clams, Retiro D’Isca,,-8.1749681,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0xd1acc25c6ee128f:0x5a062088d693d392!8m2!3d37.1053072!4d-8.1727794?hl=en

  9. Yael

    Regarding the puff-pastry swirl of pastel de nata, a recipe I have (and eager to try, although I haven’t yet) suggests the following very clever way to recreate it:
    1. Buy some good-quality, butter-based puff-pastry.
    2. Unroll it, remove the protective sheet of plastic keeping it from sticking to itself, then re-reoll it so it sticks to itself.
    3. Slice the new, tighter roll into little circles.
    4. Use these circles (I think they flatten them a bit with a rolling pin, need to check) as the base for your pasteis.

    Sounds very clever and easy. If I do try it sometime soon, I will report the results.

  10. adelinamarghidan

    Hi Deb, I am Portuguese and so happy your are enjoying Lisbon, wait until you more of the country. Would love to help you if you need tips. Enjoy, Adelina

  11. Christina Eaton

    Did you throw the Disney’s “Aladdin” quote in there on purpose (“Every turn a surprise…”) or is is just so much a part of your DNA that you didn’t even notice? Can’t decide which is better!

    Anyway, these look delicious, and glad to hear you’re enjoying your vacation.

    1. deb

      So funny, completely accidental. My son was watching it on the iPad with the other kids on vacation but I didn’t hear a line of it; realized I hadn’t seen it since [insert date of dark ages here, subtract 20 years].

  12. Susan

    Clarify: I’ve sort of made this!
    I had made the original tart back in 2010, even commented on it on the site! I really loved this topping, though I found the orig recipe a little too sweet and overpowering with almond flavoring. I’ve hung onto it to try the tart with sour cherries or to use as topping on a cobbler or muffin. It is so good and the texture is really great. Never thought to use as a bar cookie topping. Just happen to have a tube of almond paste and some plums…

  13. Peggy

    I wish I could go to Portugal, but the gods say no. Both times I’ve tried, weather has cancelled my flights. It’s excruciating yet nice to hear it’s as wonderful as I’ve imagined. Thanks for letting me enjoy it vicariously!

  14. cherielisabeth

    Yes! You must try and recreate those fabulous custard tarts. We ate about 20 of them in a little cafe near the carriage museum in Lisbon about 10 years ago. I’ve never forgotten their taste. I’ve tried many recipes, but none have been quite right.

  15. Ana in Boston

    This post made my heart sing! The recipe looks delicious and the vacation commentary brought back (also delicious!) memories of the 3 months I spent in Lisbon right after college.

    One of my favorite treats (I’m not much for eggy anything) was the chocolate salami, which the Portuguese often just call salami, confusingly. There are lots of recipes online for this, which I think is their version of a pretty standard fudge.

    I’m not a chocoholic by any means but the combination of chocolate + butter + butter cookies was delicious!

  16. Are those Quejiadas in the far right of your Portugal pics? LOVE THOSE! I used to date a girl from the Açores Islands and those were at every family gathering. Maybe that’s why I “used to date her” – since they made me fat;)

  17. Sooo great to read your enthusiasm for Portugal…we have been here for almost 7 years and have never left…we are still adoring the land and its wonderful people. We run a vegetarian, organic B&B in the amazing hills of the Sintra Natural Forest. Your recipes often inspire my breakfast offerings and will make this plum crumble for the guests tomorrow. Thanks and Enjoy the rest of your holiday!!!

  18. I’m still having a problem accessing your full site from the email post you send me. The “Read More >>” at the bottom doesn’t work. Until today, I could get to the full post by tapping on the photo, but today that only brought me to the photo details. Of course I can get to you by Googling the recipe but that shouldn’t be necessary. Interestingly the “more recent articles >>” at the bottom does work. I love your post on Portugal!

    1. deb

      Thank you. I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix the link but the top photo should always take you to the full post, just by clicking on it (in the interim).

  19. We must be plum crazy :-) I made an Italian plum cake for my daughter’s birthday. Really different from what I’ve made in the past. We were stunned that in Italy the eggs are kept out and the yolks are so very dark and orange and delicious. We went into a store to purchase our groceries and we peeked in every refrigerated section they had. I had to ask a clerk and sure enough, they were piled high just out in the middle of the store. I love the use of the almond paste in your tart. That will be next for me.

  20. Vera

    Hi, Deb!! I’m Vera, from Lisbon. I have been following your blog and trying your recipes for a while now and I must confess that I am extremely touched by your kind words about my country. :) I do think we are definitely a (not so much anymore) hidden treasure and I hope you can enjoy the best we can grant (and that we can keep up with your current expectations too!). Please make sure you have the chance to visit, e.g., Sintra, Coimbra, Aveiro or Oporto (these three cities are a bit further away from Lisbon, though), etc…. Not to mention the islands: Madeira and the Azores are also unique. :) Thanks again and do continue to have fun! Obrigada! :)

  21. “the flaky swirl underneath a custard tart and how I’m ever going to recreate it,” You mean like in the pasteis de nata? Instead of into a “book” like regular puff pastry, pasteis pastry is made into a roll, i.e. you make pastry, spread rolled pastry with fat, roll it up into a long sausage – thenthey take slices from that and roll those out – to get the pretty spirally pattern – we use a similar method in Malta to get the pastizzi layers (a savoury pastry filled with either ricotta cheese or curried peas) :)

  22. Victoria Long

    Just a comment on your new site…the ‘read more’ link is not active on the email blurb that you send out. I always need to actually scroll up and just link to your site. I hope you have discovered the vino verde. Since I returned it has become my favorite go to wine.

  23. Diane

    I just returned from a trip to Madeira Island and a dessert-gifted cousin made me the most amazing yet simple custard tart, or “Tarte de Natas.” I’ve been meaning to make one since I returned and your post inspired me to finally give it a try. Here’s the recipe I used:

    – 4 large eggs plus 1 egg white
    – 1 quart of heavy cream
    – 3/4 of a can of condensed milk (a whole can may be used for a sweeter tart)
    – 1 sheet of good quality puff pastry defrosted and rolled out slightly.
    (I didn’t use any of these, but I could see how a pinch of lemon zest, vanilla and/or a spoonful of dry coconut might be delicious in this.)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl beat eggs until yolks and whites are well incorporated. Added desired quantity of condensed milk. Whisk in the heavy cream.

    Line a springform pan with the puff pastry dough. There should be pastry lining the sides at least three quarters of the way up. Do not blind bake. Simply add egg mixture to the pastry lined springform.

    Place the springform in the oven and let it bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 and let it bake for another 30 to 40 minutes. The tart will rise and bubble a bit during the baking process. The top should be a dark gold color when the tart is finished baking. The custard may seem somewhat liquid which is ok. As the tart cools, the custard will deflate and congeal a bit.

    We enjoyed this very much — our Portuguese au pair loved it. It’s definitely an approximation, but a delicious one we thought. If you try this, I hope you enjoy it too.

  24. Maria

    I didn’t have any brown sugar on hand, so I used granulated sugar (hard to come by here in Germany!). I used ground almonds in the crust instead of sliced almonds. It was decent, but I found it a bit on the floury side. I love marzipan so I figured I’d love this recipe, but for some reason the almond flavor combined with the flouriness of the topping somehow didn’t do it for me. I don’t know if it’s because I used granulated sugar instead of brown sugar?

    1. deb

      It could have been reduced moisture from the brown sugar. I might find that it’s not just you as more comments come back after making it; if so, I’ll revisit the topping. How was the color on top? Did it brown too fast?

      1. Maria

        The color was pretty browned. It didn’t brown too quickly — I ended up putting foil on top for the last 5-10 minutes. Maybe next time I will let it continue to bake without any foil to crisp it up more. I did find that the almond flavor got more pronounced after a day or two in the fridge, but I still want to retry the recipe again with some brown sugar! I still have half of my tube of marzipan to use up. :)

    2. susannafrancesca

      Hey Maria!! I know this is a year later, but just wanted to ask: Is molasses readily available in Germany? If so, you can make your own brown sugar! I’ve done this numerous times and it works great!!

  25. bubblesb

    I seem to be missing what to do with the sliced almonds listed in the crust ingredients. I’m assuming they go into the food processor along with the flour?

  26. CQ

    I hate to correct you, but the difference between almond paste and marzipan is not stabilizers, it is sugar content. The brand you used, Odense, has about 45% almond content in its paste and about 25% in its marzipan.

  27. Vanessa

    One tip on the pastéis de nata their name induces to error, if you see any recipe with cream in the instructions know it is a fake, a cheat and not what you are looking for. The real ones have no cream. That said if you are in Lisbon and have not yet been to the Mercado da Ribeira go. Food I highly recommend any fresh fish or seafood. Try also Seafood rice (Arroz de Marisco), Açorda de Marisco, Pataniscas de Bacalhau, Prego (our fast food), Bacalhau com Natas, if any of you are into meat and heavy meals (I never was) try the Feijoada or the Cozido à Portuguesa, try also cheeses (any dry goat cheese) or Queijo da Serra. Wines my favorite are from Alentejo. Hope you continue to enjoy Portugal!

  28. Beth

    Anyone try this with peaches? I love the combo of almond and peach so was thinking of trying that variation. Would love to hear of anyone has tried it!

  29. Hannah

    My husband and I were just in Portugal for 2 weeks and missed the food so much when we got back that we threw a Portugal Party for our friends just to have a good excuse to buy copious amounts of prosciutto, Serra de Estrela cheese, and sardines! If you find a place with excellent pasteis de nata in NYC, please share it! Enjoy your vacation!

  30. My question is -totally- unrelated to cooking. Did you mention a novel — maybe in the comments section, maybe somewhere else — probably in 2015, that was about a Jewish family in an America? A book you had read and liked? Sorry if this sounds too random, was just trying to remember the title. I had heard the name from others too, but am having a memory-fail.

    1. deb

      I’ve done such embarrassingly little book-finishing the last few years, this shouldn’t be hard to recall, but maybe it was The Middlesteins? Regardless, you should read The Middlesteins and everything else by Jamie Attenberg. I love her books. The family is Jewish but it’s not specifically about Jewishness — it’s about eating. ;)

  31. Lauretta

    I made these and they were good, but a little too sweet for my taste, even though I cut down on the sugar.. I don’t know how to make them less sweet though, since most of the sugar came from the almond paste..

  32. #38

    Hi Deb,
    It’s always very grateful to read such compliments about our country. Portugal, although small is a very diverse country, with a landscape and an enviable gastronomy.

    Thanks for sharing just amazing recipe. I’ll definitely try it … It is mouth-watering.

    Best regards,
    Oito Pés

  33. Robby H.

    One question. You used a 9″ tart pan, but recommend and 8″ cake pan as an alternative. Was there a reason a 9″ cake pan wasn’t recommended? Meanwhile, I’ll just go back and enjoy those fabulous pics of Portugal one more time.

  34. I made this and they were sooooo incredibly good. Didn’t have any problem with the flouriness of the topping or with excessive sweetness; I think both problems are negated if you use really good plums with pronounced acidity. They balance both out.

  35. Ágata Sousa

    Hello. I’ve been following your recipes for some time and was surprised in a good way to find out you came to my country. I’m a baker, and pastéis de nata are a very common confection around here, even though everyone makes a big competition out of ‘which bakery in Portugal has the best one’. They’re always different anywhere you get them. The puff pastry may may be done with either margerine or butter. But choose a kind of fat that has less water, because the puff pastry will easily fall apart. Only if you’re planning to do it all from scratch, of course. It’s hard work, but totally worth it. The store bought ones don’t come even close. I’ll give you the full recipe and details if you want (it’s a long one). Feel free to leave a comment.

  36. Samantha

    So delicious! I tried your tip for using up the extra marzipan, and substituted peaches for plums, with a side dollop of peach-buttermilk gelato. A wonderful way to end the summer.

  37. Frances

    Can’t believe you are here in our adopted country and I didn’t know! (We are English and live in the Algarve.) I have followed your and love your site for years. The bakers here are amazing and even the tiniest little coffee shop has freshly made delicacies. Are you still here, can I come and get my book signed?

  38. Karen

    I made these. A double batch in a 9 x13 pan. I loved the flavor, but they were a little too thick. I will make them again, but a thinner version! :)

  39. Kate

    Thank you for this recipe! I am in northern California and we are awash in plums right now. I used all black plums for this and it turned out more sour/tart than I was expecting, but in (I think) a good sweet-tart way. Also in case you want a breakfast cookie, this is delicious with yogurt for breakfast.

    1. Kate

      I should add – I did double this and made it in a 9×13 and it was definitely too thick (esp the base). I think a 10×15 would be better if you’re doubling this.

  40. Michelle

    I was so excited to see this recipe because, marzipan. I was really looking forward to the tart plums and sweet almond paste hanging out together on my taste buds. But, I don’t know, they just weren’t quite there. I still dream about the apricot and pistachio bars I made constantly once I found that recipe on your site and was hoping it would have the same contrast. I’ll probably make these again, but I think using a 9″ pan vs. the 8″ would help. There was a bit too much crust to plum ratio for me. I reduced the sugar slightly from your recipe, but would probably reduce it bit more because I did roll out the almond paste and added that as a layer over the crust. If you have any tweaks in the future, I hope you pass them along because I really really want to love these bars. [Final confession, because it will have an effect, I used vegan butter (dairy allergic child), but usually the taste difference is minor.]

    1. deb

      I haven’t tried it but it should work fine. It has more of a propensity to brown than other crumble toppings so keep an eye on it; it might need foil if it’s getting brown too quickly.

  41. Hiluhilu

    I made these and they’re even better two days later (yes, still some left!). These are very portable and are perfect when it’s your turn to bring treats somewhere. However, as others mentioned, doubling the recipe and using a 9″x13″ pan did make the bars too thick. And by the time the top of the crust was done, the bottom was a bit too hard, so I’d use the original amount and smaller pan instead next time. As to adding the remaining almond paste, I found that using a cheese grater (largest holes) works well to break up the paste.

  42. Susan Brown

    About the new website: since the switch I can’t make the jump from the initial page to the continuation of the actual recipe–the >>> doesn’t work on my Mac, and I have to go to the “recent” arrows on the page and then backtrack to the current recipe page. Is anyone else having this problem? Am I missing something?
    Love the recipes, love the chitchat, love that Deb is as food-obsessed as I.

  43. Judy Mintz

    Sounds like a very wonderful trip! Will try you yummy looking bars this weekend!!! Curios as to where in Portugal you took this wonderful vacation. Thanks for the info. Definitely on my list!

  44. Amanda

    Thanks for the recipe! I just brought these to work today and one co-worker said, “I almost passed out when I ate it, it was so good!” And that’s even though I messed up the recipe and added the almonds late (not ground), was short on butter for the crumble (by 2 Tbsp) and accidentally doubled the sugar in the crust (egads! But it actually tasted fine, just extra crunchy. I cut back on sugar with the filling and crumble.) I look forward to making them (correctly) next time.

    Also, I love Portugal! Visited as a teen and it was always my plan to move to Lisbon as a grown up. (And own a yellow corduroy couch, don’t know why. Have not achieved either yet.)

  45. Rachel

    Can the almonds in the crust and crumble be ground up in the food processor? Or just crushed in a plastic bag? I have a huge bag of whole almonds and rather use them then buy sliced. Thank you!

  46. Diane

    I moved from San Francisco to Amsterdam two months ago. I have been looking for work, trying to settle in and spending a lot of time cooking. I’ve been digging around in your archives almost daily. I never comment but your site inspires most of my cooking. I feel so much more confident when I’m trying something new and I’ve found the recipe on your site (with your notes)! I love the new site, especially the way the comments are sorted. We couldn’t wait for these bars to cool so we had a bit when it was warm and paired it with ice cream. The dish is delicious cold and warm :)

  47. Thanks for this recipe, Deb! *so* delicious and a huge hit. I thought it was worth mentioning that making your own almond paste is very easy, which I learned because I couldn’t find the pre-made kind at my supermarket! You just blend nuts, powdered sugar, salt, egg white and almond extract in the food pro. And I didn’t even use almonds because walnuts were cheaper at the grocery store, and thanks to the extract it still tasted super almond-Y! Usually that would seem like too much work, but since this is all made in the food pro anyway it was totally easy. Here’s the recipe I used:

    1. Jessica

      This is VERY helpful! I was about to give up on ever being able to make this because plums and almond paste are not available at the same time where I live (Canada). For some reason almond paste is only available at Christmas. I LOVE marzipan and wish I could access almond paste year-round.

      I was also wondering if maybe this would work with pears, to coincide with almond paste season?

      1. Michelle

        Jessica, where do you live? I am in Vancouver and marzipan can be found year ’round at smaller European markets or specialty cooking stores. I hope you can find some where you live.

        1. Jessica

          Thanks, Michelle! I will hunt around and see if I can find it at a specialty store here (Victoria). I’ve checked one or two but I have a couple more in mind. And if all else fails, I can make a trip to the mainland. ;)

          1. florapie

            Jessica, you can always buy almond paste at the Dutch Bakery! If you haven’t found another source yet two years later :)

  48. Sheri

    Deb, I just made these, and they are spectacular! I followed your suggestion of using up the rest of the almond paste on the crust before adding the crumble and filling–great almond flavor!!!! I was worried that my plums were not juicy enough and the filling would be dry, but it turned out perfectly jammy. I’m hooked! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  49. Can these bars be baked and frozen? Was hoping to serve this for Rosh Hashanah which is late this year and Italian plums are peaking at farmers markets now. I didn’t know if the almond paste (or plums) would affect the texture after defrosting.

  50. Angela

    Suggested variations:

    I made these using raspberries instead of plums and they were SPECTACULAR. Highly, highly recommend. I had about 10oz of fresh raspberries so I used 1T of cornstarch and 2T sugar in the filling and it was perfect for an 8″ square pan.

    I also made the original version with plums, but using gluten-free flour, and it worked great and was delicious.

  51. Geekgirl

    This was delicious! Since I had an 8 oz can of almond paste in my pantry, I had to make this twice to use it all up. Such a sacrifice!

    A friend had given me plums from her tree last year and I still had some in my freezer, cut into halves. The first time I made the tart, I used an 8″ square pan and sliced the plums while they were still slightly frozen. The second time I used a 9″ springform pan and placed the frozen plum halves directly on the crust, similar to what I do for your purple plum torte recipe. That worked just fine and was so much easier than slicing the frozen plums. It took about the same time to bake, even though the plums were still frozen when I put it in the oven.

    Also, I only had whole almonds, so I toasted them, then ground them into flour in the food processor for the crust. For the topping, I chopped them. Sliced would have been better but that would have taken way too much time.

  52. Stephanie

    I just made this but it came out more like a crisp/crumble than bars. It seemed like a ton of plums and it came out pretty thick. I feel like i need to serve it with a spoon (and ice cream!) instead of in bar form. The flavors are delicious though, although i found it made too much of the crumb topping. Did anyone else find this to be the case for them?

  53. Maureen

    I have a 9″ William Sonoma pan too….:)
    Did you butter the pan? I didn’t see parchment in photo so just wondering.
    Thanks for wonderful recipes.

  54. Mary

    I made these yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed – but the piece I had today was a revelation – I’d pass up a brownie for one of these and I think chocolate tastes like love! Putting a container in the freezer for when special company come.

  55. Kathy P

    I made this using the remaining almond paste in the crust – very good, however I did think that the almond flavor overpowered the plum. Will try again using only the prescribed amount of almond past.

  56. Karen

    These sound amazing, I love anything with marzipan and I’d love to make them for Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, the local Wegmans doesn’t have plums yet. What other fruits would you suggest? Would nectarines work? Thank you!

  57. We were in Lisbon last October. I was so obsessed with the Pastel de Nata.
    I tried them everywhere we went I thought the ones at Manteigaria, in the city, were outstanding. Served right out of the oven , the custard was just the right amount of sweet and velvety, and the pastry crust was flaky and delicious.
    I know the place in Belem is famous for these, but I felt they were mediocre in comparison

  58. susan

    I am excited to make this! One question..I happen to have a tube of marzipan and not almond paste. Do you think that will work? Should I scale back the sugar? Thank

  59. Robin

    I made these twice last year, and I can’t wait until plums are ripe to make it again this year. I made it exactly as written, and it is now one of my top five desserts. LOVE

  60. Ericka Steele

    Deb! I am entering the fair in the dessert bar category! This recipe was so good, just tried it. Do you have any other recommendations for bars, that you think are just banging? Thanks, girl!

  61. For those who don’t really like the taste or texture of unadulterated marzipan, I recently read a great suggestion for incorporating chopped marzipan bits into a cake mixture – where they become melty little almond puddles instead.
    It might do likewise if mixed into your crust, rather than being placed on top of it to become involved with the plum filling.

  62. Jeanne Winding

    Another winner from Smitten Kitchen. I doubled the recipe but didn’t use the full amount of plums. It turned out fantastic! My husband loves fruit desserts and he went nuts over this one. The crust is so full of flavor with the toasted ground almonds and it stays crisp even after it’s been in the fridge.

  63. Kris

    Made these today and they’re delicious! Will try recipe with other fruit; I think cherries, rhubarb or cranberries would be excellent. I dislike overly sweet fruit desserts and put no sugar in the fruit layer, cut the crust sugar in half and only used 2 tablespoons sugar in the crumble. For our family this was the perfect sweetness— they have a nice tart-sweet contrast. We need dairy-free and gluten-free— bars worked great with Bob’s Red Mill gluten free blend and Miyokos vegan butter. Thanks for great recipe!

  64. Lili

    I’m a chef at one of the research stations in Antarctica and we got a shipment of fresh nectarines! This is a big deal down here :) Before they turned, I looked up some recipes and found this recipe. Oh my god, it was perfect! A little sweet, a little tart, almondy. Folks were raving. Thank you as always for sharing your gift and skills with us. I have never been let down by one of your recipes. I’m also making your burst tomato galette for our vegetarian option for Turkey day because that crust is drool worthy!