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Sue Gray, head of our product development team here at The Baker's Catalogue, created this recipe in order to satisfy a craving for two favorite flavors: almond and chocolate. While the bars are a bit time-consuming to assemble (four steps, four layers), they're so rich that they can be cut into small squares that will go quite a long way... and they freeze well, always a plus at this hectic time of the year.
Sue's holiday hint: When baking different kinds of cookies and treats, place small bags of each kind in boxes in the freezer, an assortment in each box. When folks drop by during the holidays you can "instantly" produce an array of goodies simply by taking one box from the freezer. Place the cookies and bars on a serving tray (don't worry, they'll thaw quickly), and folks will think you've been baking all day! Also, though butter cookies and bars hold quite well in airtight jars on the counter, leaving them out, in plain view, also makes them accessible to the "cookie monsters." You're far more likely to actually have cookies available on Christmas Day if you freeze them.
1 3/4 cups (12 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, softened
1 teaspoon butter vanilla flavor or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites)
1 tablespoon milk
1 3/4 cups (7 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (5 ounces) shredded or diced apricots
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) brandy or rum (optional)
2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) toasted almond flour
1 cup (7 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg + 2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
Chocolate and Cream Topping
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
Crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add the baking powder, salt, egg yolks and milk, and beat well. Stir in the flour and mix just until a smooth dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven, until it's lightly browned. Remove it from the oven, and set it aside to cool.
Apricot Filling: Mix all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring once or twice, and then set it aside to cool slightly.
Almond Filling: Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl; the mixture will be fairly stiff and sticky. Set it aside.
Assembly and Baking: Spread the apricot layer over the baked crust, and then spread the almond layer on top of the apricot layer. Bake the bars in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel set -- a fingerprint will remain when pressed in the middle. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool them for 1 hour.
Topping: Melt the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan set over low heat, stirring frequently, or in the microwave on low power. Continue to stir the mixture until it's smooth, then spread it atop the bars.
Let the bars cool for several hours (or overnight) before cutting into squares; no need to refrigerate, just cover the pan after the chocolate has set. Yield: 35 (1 3/4-inch square) bars.
Nutrition information per serving (1 3/4 x 1 3/4-inch bar, 64g): 245 cal, 12g fat, 11g complex carbohydrates, 21g sugar, 4g protein, 1g dietary fiber, 35mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 145mg potassium, 73RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 38mg calcium, 89mg phosphorus, 5mg caffeine.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 1, Holiday 2000 issue.