Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cherry Chocolate Hazelnut Bars

This cookie was a last minute addition to the cookie baking list: Cherry Chocolate Hazelnut Bars. I was flipping through Baking Illustrated looking for the biscotti recipes because I thought that the Apricot Pecan Biscotti recipe was in Baking Illustrated. It's not. But as I was flipping, I saw this variation on a recipe for Glazed Butter Cookies and I got a little excited. Maybe SP would get his dried cherry & nut cookies after all, just not as biscotti?
They sounded simple to make: make dough, press into cookie sheet, bake, sprinkle with chocolate chips, spread melting chips, top with nuts, cool, cut, eat. It makes about  4 dozen bars, which meant he could take some for his work cookie exchange and we'd have some for ourselves. Plus I was attracted to the pretty diamond shape. SP agreed that these sounded like a good idea.

They're a little different. For one, the recipe calls for superfine sugar, which apparently helps achieve a fine, even, delicate, crisp texture. There's a bit of cream cheese added to make the dough flavor and richness without affecting the texture. Finally, it uses a reverse creaming method in which the butter is beaten into the flour and sugar (rather than the usual creaming method in which the butter and sugar are whipped together and then the flour added). This produces flat, non-puffy, crisp cookies without airy pockets. Good for glazing or decorating. Of course, we weren't going to chill, roll, and make glazed cut out sugar cookies. We were going to try one of the 3 variations.
A cup of chopped dried cherries is added to the flour mixture before creaming. That seems odd, too, since usually dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts are added as the last step in making dough. SP had a tough time getting the dough spread fully into the corners of the cookie sheet, so our edges were misshapen. The edges got a beautiful golden color.
After baking for 20 minutes, he sprinkled the chips on top, waited a bit and spread the melting chips with an offset spatula, then pressed toasted & chopped hazelnuts on top. He let it cool completely before cutting the bars. Our diamonds are a little elongated. Only the smaller bars look like diamonds. Maybe next time we should get a little more precise and use a ruler?!
I like cherry and chocolate cookies like the Cherry Chocolate Shortbread we make. These are good, and a little easier (but not much easier). SP really likes the addition of hazelnuts. Me? Well, as usual, I could do without them, but most people probably like the hazelnuts on top.

These are really good. The sugar cookie part is yummy. I'd like to try chilling and then rolling this dough for sugar cut out cookies. Definitely a make again cookie dough, whatever variation we try in the future.
Oh, and next time we'll smush the nuts into the chocolate more - they easily topple off!

Cherry Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
from Baking Illustrated / The Science of Good Cooking

Butter Cookie Dough - recipe here or here

1 cup chopped dried cherries
1.5 cups chocolate chips
1.5 cups toasted, skinned, and chopped hazelnuts

When making the dough, add the cherries with the flour and other dry ingredients. Press the mixed dough into a parchment lined/silpat lined 12 x 18 or 11 x 17 or 12 x 17 cookie sheet (I can't remember which cookie sheet we used, but I know it wasn't the exact same size as was listed in the book). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until edges are golden. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top and allow them to start to melt. Spread the melting chips in an even layer over top the cookie. Sprinkle hazelnuts evenly over top, pressing in so they stick. Let cool then cut into desired shape (squares, rectangles, diamonds).

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