Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars

Millionaire's Shortbread
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”

I planned on giving them to the new neighbors across the street, but after eating two, decided to keep this batch all for myself.


Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars

More like an exotic candy than a cookie, the combination of butter, heady spices, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts create quite a flavor bomb.

Ingredients

    Shortbread
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Caramel
  • 7 Tablespoon butter
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • Hazelnut Croquant
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • pinch salt
  • Ganache
  • 4.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

    Shortbread:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the batter just starts to clump together. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, lightly prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
  3. Caramel:
  4. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine caramel ingredients, bring to boil and pour over shortbread. Cool.
  5. Hazelnut Croquant:
  6. While caramel is cooling, heat sugar and water in a small nonstick skillet over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 4 minutes. Add hazelnuts and stir for 30 seconds to coat.
  7. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat, and immediately spread nuts on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
  8. Ganache:
  9. Once caramel is cool, place bittersweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until completely melted and combined. Pour over caramel and smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnut croquant. Let set for an hour or two, or refrigerate until set. Remove from pan using foil, cut into 16 fingers.

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Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars

Chocolate dulce de leche bars

Call me the uncertain Siren, keeping sentry over heaving oceans, afraid to beckon you; frightened that my foolish desires will leave you shipwrecked on rocky shores below. Yet, equally, I fear that the sweet chorus from my lips is not enough to entice you from your charted course. So I watch your ship pass, this melody trapped within my throat, and collapse heartsick atop my island bluff.


Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars

  • Servings: 12 large or 24 bite sized bars
  • Print
Oh my – chocolaty and creamy deulce de leche on top of a buttery shortbread crust.You can also reduce the salt in the shortbread to ¼ t. and sprinkle the tops with sea salt just before serving. Recipe from Gourmet magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 13.5 can dulce de leche
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, at least 60%, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Make shortbread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 9” square pan, line bottom and sides with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, butter foil.
  2. With a fork, blend together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add flour and blend until a soft dough forms. Spread dough evening in pan, patting evenly into pan and prick all over with folk. Bake until golden 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make Topping: Bring cream and dulce de leche to simmer in a pan until fully combined. Whisk together yolks in a bowl and then slowly add cream mixture to yolks, tempering to avoid curdling eggs. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture registers 170 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture through a sieve over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until set, about 2 hours. Transfer to cutting board using foil and cut with a hot, clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts). Chill until ready to serve.

Cranberry Cherry Oatmeal Bars

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Trusting has been difficult for me, yet of the highest importance. I don’t trust easily – or often. It takes years of loyalty to gain my trust, one bad deed to destroy it. One boyfriend, The Irishman, managed to garner my complete trust during our exceedingly brief 8-month relationship. At the time, I should have questioned it further – why did I trust him, what was his secret trust sauce? Because now, I could use a magnum of it. I find myself obliged to trust others with my livelihood, my reputation, my future, my pride and, most importantly, my heart. Utter reliability on others has never been my forte and, today, I’m left vulnerable. I possess no options except to close my eyes, fall back from a great height, and pray someone’s there to catch me.

While I anxiously await answers to my immediate future, I divert myself with this holiday-appropriate use for leftover cranberry sauce, using last week’s recipe.

Cranberry Cherry Oatmeal Bars

Inspired by Bon Appétit’s Double Cherry Streusel Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 8×8-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving overhang. Spray foil with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in processor; blend for 5 seconds. Add butter and extract. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and pulse until mixture comes together in small clumps.
  3. Transfer ½ cup (packed) mixture to small bowl and reserve for streusel. Blend remaining mixture in processor until large moist clumps form. Press dough over bottom of prepared pan. Don’t clean processor bowl. Bake dough until golden, about 15 minutes; cool crust 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
  4. While crust bakes and cools, blend cranberry sauce in processor into a chunky puree. Add oatmeal and walnuts to reserved 1/2 cup dough. Mix dough with fork or fingers, breaking streusel topping into small clumps.
  5. Spread cranberry sauce over baked crust. Sprinkle streusel topping over. Bake until filling is bubbling and streusel topping is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang as aid, lift from pan. Peel off foil and discard. Cut cookies into 16 bars.

Please, Stare at Me Ucomfortably

Chocolate Cherry Bars

Chocolate Cherry Salted Caramel Squares

I should have stayed home and played with the kittens. The night would have been more satisfying. But, instead of staying put, I shaved my legs, whitened my teeth, and switched glasses for contacts – all for another dud of a date.

Isn’t it the rule on a first date that each person is mutually responsible for maintaining the conversation? Instead, I sat with someone who answered my questions willingly, but only asked one question after fielding ten of mine. For me, the gift of gab does not come easily on a first meeting, yet I was solely responsible for the mind-numbing conversation (can I even call it a conversation?). Otherwise, we would have found ourselves blinking, mute, with nothing to break the tedium. He divulged the intricacies of his family’s various residences, his kid’s ages and hobbies, where he’s traveled, and what his younger brother likes, does and where he currently lives. Two questions were asked of me in kind.

The effort to keep the conversation moving was beyond my skills. At one point, towards the end of the lackluster night, he remarked that I appeared ‘distracted.’ I’m afraid he caught me daydreaming about my escape.

Next (again)…

Chocolate Cherry Salted Caramel Squares (because I deserve it!)

150 gr.  butter (softened)
50 gr.    sugar
25 gr.    brown sugar
½ t.      salt
½ t.      vanilla
1          egg yolk
185 gr.  All- purpose flour

227 g.  Salted Caramel Sauce **
170 gr.  Tart Dried Cherries
Cherry Juice or Cranberry Juice
57 gr.    sliced almonds
85 gr.   dark chocolate, chopped

Make Shortbread Crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 8×8 baking pan with two layers aluminum foil with an overhang to help remove the cookies. Grease foil with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugars to form a paste (not until pale and fluffy). Add salt and vanilla and combine. Add egg yolk and combine. Scrape down as needed. Add flour and mix until dough just comes together. Do not over-mix or too much gluten will form and base will be tough. Press into bottom of baking pan and just slightly up the side (to stop filling from oozing). Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

Make Topping
Cover dried cherries with juice and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Let rest 5 minutes to soften cherries. Drain juice and roughly chop cherries. Pour salted caramel over baked crust. Do not allow caramel to overflow down the sides of the pan or you will have difficulty removing the cookies. Sprinkle softened and chopped cherries over caramel. Sprinkle almonds over cherries and return cookies to oven. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until crust is light brown, caramel is bubbling, and almonds are slightly toasted.   Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

Rest cookies on counter for 10-15 minutes to allow chocolate to melt and then cool completely (I put my pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes). Remove cookies from pan using foil. Cut into 16 squares.

** While store-bought salted caramel sauce will do in a pinch, David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel Sauce is worth it. His recipe makes 1.5 cups, more than you need. I usually eat the remainder straight from the pan.