Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Best Things are Simple

I have a bajillion cookbooks, but a few are standouts that have recipes that are made over and over, year after year. Sometimes I go a couple of years without making one of my favorites, but always return eventually. These bars, which I haven't made for a couple of years, is one of those recipes. Julia called to ask for the recipe today, and now I want to make them again. It's a recipe that's so simple, with ingredients that can be pulled from the pantry at any time and made very quickly. Thin, crispy, and full of chocolate and nutty goodness, they are a nice cookie to have with homemade ice cream in the summer, or with a pot of tea in cooler weather.

Chocolate Crunch Bars
 from The Fine Arts Cookbook II, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a jelly roll pan

2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup shortening 
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

Combine the chocolate, cocoa and shortening together in a small heavy saucepan over low heat just until the shortening is melted, stirring well. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly. Slowly add the sugar and mix well. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, blending well between each addition. Stir in the salt, vanilla and flour and blend until just combined well. Don't overmix. Spread the batter evenly and thinly in the pan, then sprinkle with the nuts. Press the nuts gently into the surface so they don't roll off. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove and cut immediately into long rectangles. Cool a minute, then remove the thin bars to a rack to finish cooling. They will crisp as they cool. (Which is why they are cut immediately after removing from the oven -- much easier and less messy then.)

Makes 2 dozen or more