Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bar None

When I'm motivated to bake, I can really crank out the goodies. So tonight I headed into the kitchen to make the third of my planned chocolate treats for Valentine's Day.

This time, the dessert in question has a more subtle touch of chocolate... well, comparatively speaking. For many years I've enjoyed making a rich, buttery three-nut bar with a shortbread base. But two years ago, it occurred to me that since nuts and chocolate tend to go so well together, perhaps this recipe could be modified to include some dark chocolate.

Behold, the dark chocolate-double nut bar, a new recipe.

The shortbread base, made with regular and black cocoas and fragrant with vanilla and almond extracts, starts everything off on the right note.

While the shortbread cooled, I mixed up the filling, adding first the chopped walnuts and almonds,

and then the shards of dark chocolate (from a 3.5-oz bar attacked with a wooden mallet... very therapeutic).

Filling and shortbread base together, thrown into the oven... well, all I can tell you is that it's a crying shame that there's no scent available on the Internet, because the fragrance of nuts, extracts, chocolate, and buttery goodness is unbeatable.

Of course, I had to wait a while to cut the bars since the filling takes a while to solidify. (It's not that it's undercooked, just that that rich butter-sugar-egg filling has to settle into an almost gel-like texture.) But once I was able to cut into it and sample a piece, I knew it was well worth the wait.

Those folks who are going to get these chocolate-laden care packages are going to be pretty happy, I can tell you.

And I think this is the best part of it... bar none.

Dark Chocolate-Double Nut Bars

I can't remember now where I first found the recipe for Three Nut Bars, but it was a keeper, and I'd still make it without the chocolate. But with the chocolate, it's beyond wonderful, beyond blissful... it's simply a dream. If you find yourself persuaded to try the recipe, be sure to share with plenty of friends. Too much of a good thing can be wonderful, but also fattening!

Shortbread Base
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T black cocoa
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c sugar (your choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Grease a 10" square baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift together flour, cocoas, and salt into a small bowl; set aside. In a larger bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and cream until very light in color. Add in vanilla and almond extracts. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.

Spread the cookie dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the cookie layer on the middle rack in the oven for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and set aside on a cooling rack.

Nut Filling

3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
3 T flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c chopped almonds
1/4 c chopped dark chocolate

For the nut topping, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Blend in the melted butter. Stir in the walnuts, almonds, and chocolate. Spoon filling evenly over the cookie base. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and firm to the touch.

Cool the cake of nut bars on a rack until it reaches room temperature, about 2 hours. Cut into bars and store in an airtight tin.

Makes 16 or so


At 2/09/2007 10:10 AM, Anonymous Kim U said...

Oh my, those look delicious! I'd have to make them for a dinner party or to bring to work though, otherwise I'd eat the whole pan :) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

At 2/09/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

They are really out of this world, but I do agree that you'll need to share them. I brought most in to work after sending off Valentine packages this morning... the students love them!


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