Tuesday, December 21, 2010
New York City is getting all dressed up. Lights everywhere, even tiny non-neighborhoods like NoHo are hanging glittering "Happy Holiday" banners. The Met put up its tree, and if you want a tip from me to you, you can forget Rockefeller Center and head straight for the Met. Or just do both, since it's Christmas.
This is my last suggestion for your holiday cookie tray. The recipe comes from the slim Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies, an offshoot of the American cookbook classic. Since I'm having a little bit of trouble coming up with a post today, I'm going to list a few descriptors and you can pick the ones you like the best. It will be like Choose Your Own Adventure.
Words cannot describe how great these are
The minute I saw these I knew I had to make them
I've had these bookmarked for months
This will be your new go-to recipe
These are definitely worth destroying your diet over
These are dangerously delicious
These are so simple yet so tasty
These are perfect for the unexpected guest (even though they're not)
It doesn't get much better than this
Your friends will thank you
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did
It's really cold outside
Chocolate-Glazed Toffee Bars
Adopted from Irma S. Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies
For the shortbread base:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons milk
For the toffee and chocolate layers:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons clover or other mild honey
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
For the shortbread:
Grease an 8 inch square baking dish and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Then add the butter pieces and using your fingertips work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like sand. Sprinkle the mixture with the milk and knead until the milk is distributed throughout and the mixture holds together in a ball.
Press the dough into the prepared pan, in an even layer. Preheat the oven to 350 F, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake the chilled dough on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the rest of the layers.
For the toffee and chocolate:
Toast the 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans either on a baking sheet in the still-warm oven for a few moments, or dry toast them in a skillet on the stove-top. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the butter, the brown sugar, the honey, 1 tablespoon of milk and the salt. Stir this mixture frequently to prevent it from burning, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the toasted nuts and the vanilla.
Spread the mixture over the cooled shortbread crust and bake for 17-20 minutes. The toffee layer should bubble a little and turn golden brown. Cool on a wire wrack until warm, but not hot, and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Let the chips melt a bit, then spread the around with a knife. The chocolate won't cover the top of the bars completely. Finally, sprinkle the last 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans over the top. Cut into bars while still a little warm, which will be easier than trying to do it once they're completely cool. Allow to cool totally, and enjoy.