Tweedie bar cookies: chapter 2

After my first attempt at bar Tweedies, I did a little cogitating. I knew I had to back off the baking powder for sure. I also realized it was time to use some common sense about the middle layer, and make a confectioners’ sugar frosting that would just plain behave itself. Finally, I wondered what kind of brownie-like proportions could be brought to bear on the base layers, to get something more moist, that would read more like a bar cookie.

I pulled out my copy of The Cookie Companion, and leafed through the bar cookie section. On page 191 I found Scandinavian Blondies, and it hit me: the flour/butter proportions were almost exactly the same as the original Tweedie recipe’s (with the notable exception of the baking powder). I began to wonder if the original recipe, found on the internet, didn’t have a typo where the leavening was concerned. It could easily have been 1/2 teaspoon instead of two teaspoons.

The Scandinavian Blondies had one other significant difference: while the ingredients were pretty much the same, they were handled quite differently. Eggs and sugar are beaten together until yellow and thick, and melted butter and dry ingredients are whisked into the batter. I decided to put the two techniques up against each other, head to head.

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I’m using the mixer’s whisk to fold the dry ingredients in to the whipped eggs and sugar for the Blondie version.

Both pans went together quickly, and baked up in about the same amount of time. Their textures had two very distinct personalities, though. The baking powder/milk recipe was much more cakey; the Scandinavian Blondie base was more moist and chewy. I personally liked the chewier version. The look of the base was about the same for each: freckled with bits of chocolate, thus living up to the name.

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This is what the Blondie technique’s base looked like. Shiny top, chewy center.

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Here’s the cake-style base. It holds together much better now.

The confectioners’ sugar middle layer went together in a jiffy and covered both bases just as I’d hoped it would.
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Finally, I realized that the name of this dessert was meant to be reinforced by its appearance. I decided to go back to the original proportions of chocolate and butter for the topping, and pipe it over the top in a fashion that would evoke a nubby, tweed-like look. Time for taste testing.

As often happens when you put out something unfamiliar, the responses can be all over the map. There was an almost even split between the cake-style fans and the chewier-base supporters. Cake fans thought it wasn’t really cakey enough (as in not tall enough); cookie people thought the chewier base made sense.

These are the times when I wish I could have a cup of coffee with the original Tweedie-maker and ask them what they were intending. Because it might have been nothing like the place I ended up with these bar cookies. Nevertheless, the look is distinctive, and if you’re in the mood to make something a little unusual, it’s worth giving the recipe a try:

Bar Tweedies tweaked
Base
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
1/3 cup (2 ounces) chocolate chips
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
Middle layer
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Top
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chopped semisweet chocolate or chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the base: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Measure out 1/2 cup of flour and combine it with the chocolate chips in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chips are finely chopped; set aside. Whisk the remaining flour together with the baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture alternately with milk, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go. Add the chopped chocolate/flour mixture. Spread the dough in the pan, and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the edges just begin to pull away from the pan. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
For the middle layer: Cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar. Beat in the cream, salt, and vanilla. Spread this over the cooled base.
For the top: Melt the chocolate or chips and butter together over low heat, stirring until smooth. Place in a piping bag or parchment paper cone, snip the end, and drizzle over the top of the frosted bars. Yield: 30 1 1/2 by 2-inch bars.

Swedish Blondie base version:
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup (2 ounces) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Beat the eggs and sugar together until lemon yellow, light and fluffy. Pulse the chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of the flour until tweedy-looking; place in a separate bowl. Whisk this mixture together with the remaining flour and salt. Add the vanilla to the butter, and fold the mixture into the eggs alternately with the flour mixture until everything is incorporated. Spread in the prepared 9 by 13-inch pan, and bake as for the master recipe above.

Susan Reid
About

Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently enjoying her fourth career after stints in advertising, running restaurants, and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. She joined King Arthur in 2002 to ...