Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Quick Raspberry Hazelnut Bar Cookies

A great cookie for bringing to a cookie swap or to work or pot luck isn't always easy to find. This one combines two flavors that go well together; hazelnuts and raspberries. It is also pretty easy considering that you get 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on how small you cut the bars). They do take an hour to bake but the preparation time is relatively short if you don't skin the hazelnuts. I think that King Arthur Flour company may sell hazelnut flour which would work well in these. I did toast and skin the hazelnuts which took some time. Those thin nut skins seemed to fly over the counters even when the nuts were inside of a tea towel. Fortunately I did that part the night before.

The next day a little over three sticks of unsalted softened butter whirled around in the mixer with some sugar, a couple of eggs, a little flour and those hazelnuts. Two thirds of the batter became the cookie base and then two cups of raspberry jam made the inner layer. I added a little more flour to the rest of the dough to make it easier to break up the dough for the topping. A gentle pat across the topping and into the preheated oven they went. Very quickly my house smelled fantastic!

Hazelnuts and raspberries not only taste good together, they smell wonderful together. The bottom crust is firm and just a bit crisp on the bottom and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The raspberry preserves make the top part of the cookie moister and a bit chewy. The topping firms up as it cools, so you'll get a nice bit of crunch with the topping, sweet moistness with the raspberry, then a morsel of hazelnut and crispness.

Took some of these to my class Monday night and they were a hit. I'm sad that the in-person part of the class is finished because the people were really nice and the teacher is wonderfully funny and fun. The final project and final exam are still to come but I'm sort of looking forward to them to see how much I learned about InDesign and page layout.

Some more of the cookies went to the P.E.O. Christmas party today and they were enjoyed by many. What are you waiting for? These will be welcomed wherever you take them...even the short walk to your own TV area or dining room.

Raspberry Hazelnut Bars
from The Best of Fine Cooking Cookies
Yields about 4 dozen bars

13 oz. (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a few tablespoons more (more or less) for the pan
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 lb. (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
7 1/2 oz. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (1 2/3 cups)
2 cups raspberry preserves, seeded or seedless

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix just enough to incorporate. Add the hazelnuts and mix until just blended.

Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with the raspberry preserves and then crumble the remaining dough on top (I added additional flour to make the dough a bit more crumbly and also refrigerated it for 1/2 hour. If you are doing this, don't preheat the oven it once you take the dough out of the fridge.) Pat the dough gently to settle the topping.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour. Put the pan on a rack to cool. Cut the bars into even 1 1/2-inch squares.

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