Thursday, December 18, 2008
Toffee Chocolate Nut Wedges
Sometimes I feel like the holiday season is an unspoken competition. It can be a competition to give the best food gift, cook the best meal, or distribute the most cookies to the most people. When I go to a holiday party, I feel like it's a competition to make the most talked-about dish and go home with the least leftovers, without upstaging the hostess.
I know the holiday doesn't have to be competetive. Still, as a baker, there's nothing worse than to spend hours working on something elaborate and seasonal only to have no one eat it. Or have someone tell you they wanted to eat it, but they ate too many Candy Cane Joe-Joe's, or one too many pieces of Aunt So-and-So's super wonder fudge bark thing.
To cut back on holiday baking stress, it's good to have a repertoire of quick, impressive, cost-effective recipes. If you, like me, put off most of your holiday baking until the very last minute, you'll love this recipe for Toffee Chocolate Nut Wedges. With minimal effort, these delicious, elegant cookies can be baked and assembled in less than an hour.
Rather than crunchy, like shortbread, these cookies are tender with crisped edges. The toasted nuts add a needed textural contrast to the cookie base and smooth, creamy ganache.
I think these cookies could be even more visually striking with different topping combinations. I had mendiants in mind when I thought of different ingredients to add: cocoa nibs, sea salt, pistachios, almonds, candied orange peel, dried tart cherries, cranberries, and raisins. Even white chocolate with candy cane pieces.
I don't think these cookies would go unnoticed at anyone's party! Even if they did...at least they keep well.
Toffee Chocolate Nut Wedges
adapted from Abigail Johnson Dodge's The Weekend Baker
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ tsp table salt
1 yolk from large egg
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp heavy cream
½ c chopped pecans (or walnuts), toasted
Position an oven rack in the middle and preheat to 350F. Lightly grease a 9.5" tart pan with a removable bottom. A pie plate or similarly sized baking pan will work, but you won't get the nice fluted edges.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, dark brown sugar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat just until combined. Pour in the flour and beat on low speed until the dough begins to clump together. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, scattering the pieces evenly. Pat the dough into the bottom (not up the sides) of the prepared pan to form an even layer. Bake until the top looks dry and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 25 to 27 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with the cream in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. When the crust is baked, transfer the pan to a rack. Pour the warm ganache over the warm crust and spread evenly to within 1/2” of the edge. Scatter the nuts over the ganache and gently press them into the chocolate. Let cool until the chocolate is set, about 4 hours at room temperature or about 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the outer ring of the tart pan and cut the “cookie tart” into 16 wedges. Serve the wedges chilled or at room temperature.
at 9:17 AM