Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cookie Bars

In school this past week, we've been making a variety of cookies, tarts, and bars. I thought I'd show you these two and give you the basic recipes. The one pictured below is the Pecan Diamond and the bottom is a plate of Cherry Almond bars drizzled with chocolate. Each is basically a sweet dough base (somewhere between a sugar cookie and a shortbread) that is prebaked, topped with a nut and caramel mixture and baked again until it sets. You could easily switch up the type of nut used, the type of dried fruit in the Almond Cherry bars, use maple syrup instead of honey, or, if you're like me, add some salt.

Here is a good recipe for the crust:

Note that since you will be baking this twice (once without filling and once after it is filled), prebake the crust at 375 just until it starts turning golden brown. Also, if you're dough cracks or isn't quite a rectangle when you put it on your cookie sheet (important - use a cookie tray with sides), just patch it up and press it in. It's going to be covered in filling and you'll probably want to trim the edges, anyway. Do not skip the refrigeration step; it's important to prevent your crust from shrinking!

Pecan Diamond filling:

8 oz melted butter

6 oz honey

8 oz brown sugar

2 oz white sugar

12 oz pecan pieces

8 oz cream

Heat butter, honey, and both sugars in medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Bring to a hard boil (it will become a little more golden brown in color). Add pecans and bring to hard boil again (rapid bubbling all over the pan, including the middle). Take off heat and add cream. Pour mixture evenly over cooled crust. Pop in oven at 375 until mixture bubbles all over, especially in middle. Let cool before cutting.

Almond Cherry filling:

7 oz melted butter

7 oz white sugar

2 oz honey

4 oz cream

8 oz sliced almonds

4 oz dried cherries, chopped into smaller pieces

1 oz flour

Combine first four ingredients in saucepan and bring to hard boil (as in previous recipe). Let boil for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Add dry ingredients and bring to a hard boil again, still stirring constantly. Pour onto cooled crust and bake at 375 until almonds have browned a little and mixture bubbles all over (again, especially in the middle or the center will be gooey). Cool before cutting.

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