Monday, October 24, 2005
Mondays with Maida - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars
Page 84 in the old book / page 130 in the new book
This cookie is one of the reasons I love Maida Heatter. The recipe is an old favorite of mine, though I hadn't made it in several years. It seems complicated when you first read through it, but actually it's quite simple to make. First comes a shortbread base, a little jam is spread over that, then there's a chocolate walnut layer, then some rich chocolate icing, and finally a sprinkling of walnuts. It's a masterpiece.
The recipe calls for apricot jam, but some time back I began substituting seedless red raspberry jam. The apricot jam is good, but not at all noticeable. I love chocolate and raspberry and the seedless raspberry jam has the added advantage that it isn't lumpy, so it's easy to spread in a thin, uniform layer.
I've never tasted the middle layer in these cookies all by itself, and I'm wishing now I had. It's interesting because it has no flour. It consists of ground walnuts, eggs, dark brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. It has surprisingly little cocoa in it, but gives the impression of being quite fudgy. I expect this is due in part to the thick layer of near-solid chocolate icing that sits atop. The amount of brown sugar in the layer and its appearance probably contribute as well.
Overall, the cookies are not overly sweet, but are quite chocolatey, with an occasional, brief burst of raspberry. They have a lovely mix of textures and are pretty to look at (my photo doesn't do them justice).
I got a chuckle when I read Suzanne's comment. I delivered her cookie to her (she was out the first day I brought them in) in a plastic baggie which I plunked on her desk so that the cookie wasn't even standing upright...
Suzanne: "These cookies/bars looked as if they should be served on a silver tray. They looked elegant and were delicious. Rating - 5.0"
Denny: "Excellent, but I couldn't taste the raspberry. Rating - 5.0!"
Laura: "Yummy shortbread coupled with chocolate and walnuts - a delicious combination! Rating - 4.0"
Phil: "A distinctive, titillating combination of flavors and textures tempered by a shortbread base. Looks great and tastes even better. Not a dessert to be served to just anyone. Rating - 5.0"
Overall rating by the panel - 4.8
Next week - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars