Apologies for being M.I.A lately.
I’ve been baking up a storm and meeting many birthday cake requests and social gathering squares.
However, I am glad to share these delicious bars with you.
These were conceived in light of my desire to fuse a marbled cookie base with a moist and chewy frangipane filling. The filling is soft and verging on damp. It is fragrant with sweet ground almonds, elevated with extracts, and given a splash of amaretto for good measure (booze here = flavour-town).
A trifecta of almond goodness is what makes this filling ridiculously addictive. Best of all, it is offset with a buttery crisp crust. Its marbled effect allows you to taste chocolate and vanilla in one bite. Since the base has more butter than sugar, it tempers the rich filling perfectly.
I’ve been quite the culinary mad-scientist lately– fusing together ingredients I dream of eating.
This recipe involves several steps but everything can be made in advance. The cookie dough base can even be frozen until you are ready to use it. Just thaw it in your fridge the evening before baking it off. The filling can be made up to one day in advance and stored in the fridge (wrapped well in plastic and stored away from items with strong odours). The frangipane recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com and the cookie base from Chow.com
Frangipane Cookie Squares
For the Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate from a bar, melted– you can use chips if you like too but just make sure its a good quality
1 1/2 cups blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar (if you want a sweeter filling you can use as much as 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Amaretto
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
Heat the oven to 375°F. Arrange a rack in the middle. Grease and line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
Make the crust first:
Combine flour and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat with rubber spatula until fluffy and light (it took me about 5 minutes to get the desired appearance and texture). Add the egg, and mix until just incorporated; mix in vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture slowly (so none of it goes flying in your face). Divide the dough in half and add the melted chocolate to one of the halves. Then combined the two and using your hands, twist the dough to get a marbled effect.
Evenly distribute the dough in the pan. Bake until the top feels dry and crisp, about 20-22 minutes. Take it out of the oven, and let it cool completely on a wire rack. While they are baking up then cooling down, make the filling.
Reduce temperature to 350°F.
Combine almonds, sugar, eggs, amaretto, extracts, and salt in processor. Blend until soft paste forms. Add butter; blend 10 seconds. Spread evenly onto cooled crust (a metal offset palette knife helps).
Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until the top feels firm and is golden brown about 30-40 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into squares.
Yield: 9 large squares or 12 medium sized ones.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep for 3 days at room temperature in a cool, dry spot. They can also be frozen in freezer bags for up to 2 months.