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An intriguing name, we thought, to begin a journey, one that begged, "Try me!" So we did, and when these sophisticated little squares emerged from the test kitchen with their very moist base, intriguing depth of flavor, and frosting ingeniously colored in a lovely pastel pink, they seemed a perfectly appropriate choice for an issue embracing both springtime and teatime.
Susan Kent, leader of our customer service team here at The Baker's Catalogue, was so enamored of the frosting that she vowed to make it at home that very evening. She applauded all three versions of the squares we tested, and generously bestowed upon them the compliment of "melt-in-your-mouth."
3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons port*
1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, toasted and finely ground
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons port*
1/4 cup (1 ounce) walnuts, toasted and finely ground
*Not having port on hand in our test kitchen, we substituted a combination of 4 1/2 teaspoons red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) and 1 1/2 teaspoons brandy for each 2 tablespoons port, which seemed to work well.
Base: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well. Stir in the milk and 2 tablespoons port.
In a separate bowl, combine the nuts, flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the nut mixture into the butter mixture, mixing only until all ingredients are incorporated. Spread the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 9-inch pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and immediately brush the bars with the remaining 2 tablespoons port. Cool to room temperature.
Glaze: When the bars are cool, mix the butter, salt, sugar and port together, using additional liquid if necessary to achieve a spreadable consistency. Cover the bars evenly with the glaze, sprinkle with the ground walnuts, and let stand until the glaze is firm. Cut into squares when completely cool. Yield: 30 squares.
Nutrition information per serving (1 bar, 1/30 of recipe, 26g): 105 cal, 5.5g fat, 1g protein, 2g complex carbohydrates, 9g sugar, 17mg cholesterol, 32mg sodium, 67mg potassium, 30RE vitamin A, 19mg calcium, 28mg phosphorus.