Monday, January 16, 2006
Mondays with Maida - Hungarian Walnut Bars
Page 102 in the old book / page 142 in the new book
This was entirely different approach to bar cookies for me... both the top and bottom layers are rolled pastry flavored with lemon zest and leavened with baking powder. In between is a sweetened walnut filling. The end result is a crumbly, nutty, lemony bar.
These were quite easy to make - you really don't even need a mixer. Unfortunately, I made the walnut filling more difficult than necessary. The recipe says to beat rum (or water) with an egg white "only until it increases in volume and starts to thicken". I started out beating with a whisk and wasn't seeing much change, so I dumped the mixture into the bowl of my mixer and tried that. I still saw little to no change in volume or consistency, so I had dirtied an extra bowl needlessly. I could be wrong, but I really think the only goal here is to break up the egg white so that it can mix well with the nuts. Briefly beating the mixture by hand with a whisk should be sufficient for that purpose.
I thought the cookies were very good and quite different from most bar cookies. I used dark rum in the filling, but couldn't taste it at all - no one else seemed to pick up on its presence either. I'm fascinated by the way these cookies are constructed and the texture of the pastry (I think the baking powder makes the pastry lighter and more crumbly). It would be fun to play with different fillings and flavorings.
Here's the panel...
Suzanne: "This cookie was great! Lots of walnuts, sandwiched in between the cookie, and a slight lemony taste. Rating - 5.0"
Denny: "Definitely 5.0. Particularly liked the lemon taste after I figured it out. I think they're the best ones so far, although I loved some of the chocolate ones. Believe it or not, they may be better than my Mom's and Grandmother's nut horns. Thanks for those memories triggered by taste. Rating - 5.0"
Terri: "Outstanding - crunchy but moist with walnut paste-like filling. Rating - 5.0"
Phil: "A sweet layered combination of a generous portion of walnuts sandwiched between pastry dough. While a definite "keeper" this sampler kept searching for a moment of click like flavor which distinguishes the best from the very good. Rating - 4.1"
Overall rating by the panel - 4.8
Next week - Butterscotch Walnut Bars