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

Nutrition Facts


Nic said...

Impressive ratings, but why did Laura knock them down to a 4? I can only imagine (until I eventually get around to making them) what a nice contrast that shortbread layer must be.

Niki said...

Phwoarrrr! These are shooting to the top of my must-bake list! They look spectacular, and I'm with you on the raspberry idea. I have some raspberry preserves at home, so it's full steam ahead! Soon.....

Robyn said...

Cathy, these looks very rich! I'm putting together a treat plate for the holidyas, I think these are a must!

Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

Your photo does do this lovely dessert justice...I almost felt like I had to make them...IMMEDIATELY! =)

I too enjoy raspberries with chocolate. It seems like those two flavors were meant to go together.

I'm really happy that the cookie panel almost came out with a unanimous 5 rating. Since I trust Phil's judgement, I'm definitely going to make these soon. =)

Cathy said...

Hi Nic! I don't know - I didn't quiz her on it and she didn't volunteer any complaints about them. I'm guessing that she's not crazy about the mixed textures since she hasn't been fond of the other combination type cookies. I do think that the shortbread is just perfect here.

Hi Niki! Let me know what you think of them! I just love them! If you have seedless jam or can strain the jam, I think it's much nicer without the seeds.

Hi Chronicler! I think these would be great for the holidays - chocolate always is! These seem a little more sophisticated than plain old brownies (though plain old brownies are pretty great in my book!) and would be very attractive in an assortment of sweets.

Hi Reed! Aha, another member of the Phil fan club! Do try these - I think you'll like them!

Anonymous said...

Cathy, I strain the apricot preserves after I heat them so that they are smooth and not lumpy. I also cut these rather small as they are so rich.
As ever, Pie Susan