Saturday, July 28, 2007

Deep Chocolate Shortbread

I read a recent review of this cookbook, Chocolate and Vanilla by Gale Gand*. I had to read it. Immediately. Thank you (once again) local library. The review mostly made me interested in the recipe for Deep Chocolate Shortbread . . . it raved about this dense cookie and labeled it a definite keeper.

Just a few ingredients (ones you typically have in your house) and it was extra simple to make. They'd be pretty packaged in a clear cellophane bag tied with twine.

2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 3/4 cups plus 2 T. flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 t. salt

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and add vanilla, flour, cocoa powder and salt until just blended.

Dust work surface with flour and turn dough out onto it. Knead dough by hand enough to form it into a smooth ball. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into 1/4" thick square. Transfer dough to parchment lined cookie sheet by rolling it up around the rolling pin and then unrolling onto the paper. Roll dough a little bit more once it's on the cookie sheet to make it slightly thinner. Using a fork prick the surface of the dough all over. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake shortbread until firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately cut shortbread into 24 rectangles. Let cool before storing in airtight container at room temperature.

*Interestingly enough I enjoyed the vanilla recipes in her cookbook even more than the chocolate. The older I get the more I appreciate the vanilla flavor, even more than chocolate. That's something I never thought I'd say. One half of this cookbook features vanilla recipes. You turn it around to read her chocolate recipes. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Almond Bars


1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds almonds, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and almond and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

You can substitute pecans . . .

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Chocolate Frosting

6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 t. pure vanilla
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar

Chop chocolate and place in bowl over pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 more minutes. Gradually add confectioners sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Add chocolate and mix until blended. Spread immediately on cooled cake.

Lauren, Katie and Tamara say this is a keeper.