Baking expert Flo Braker rises to the occasion with more than 200 celebration-worthy recipes for baked goods. Whether it's an impressive Dark Chocolate Custard Tart to wish someone a happy birthday, a blue ribbon-worthy batch of Fresh Mint Brownies for the annual family reunion, or an Old World Braided Coffee Cake to impress the bridge club, each recipe is custom-crafted to commemorate life's special events. Lots of introductory information on techniques and ingredients ensure that each treat will be baked to perfection, making this a fabulous reference for any cookbook library. Baking for All Occasions makes each day something to celebrate.
Heavenly Brownie-on-Shortbread Bars (edited for the web site format)
Enjoy the best of both worlds with these change-of-pace bars. Baking the silky, intense chocolate topping on crunchy (firm) shortbread makes for neatly cut brownies that will lend panache to any dessert time.
1 1/3 cups (6 1/4 ounces/175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces/65 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick/115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick/115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
5 ounces (140 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup firmly packed (7 ounces/200 grams) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed (4 1/2 ounces/130 grams) hazelnuts, finely chopped to yield 1 cup
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Press a sheet of aluminum foil to cover the outside bottom and sides of a 9 x 2-inch square pan. Lift off the foil, invert the pan, and gently press the foil into the pan to fit the contours.
Shortbread: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and process briefly to blend. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and process with 1-second bursts. Add the vanilla and continue with 1-second bursts until the ingredients form small clumps. Stop before the mixture forms a ball. Scatter the clumps over the bottom of the prepared pan, and press with fingertips to line the bottom evenly. Bake the shortbread until it is pale gold and firm to the touch, 27 to 32 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack, about 20 minutes.
Brownie: Whisk the flour and salt in a medium bowl to blend; set aside. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture to combine thoroughly. Set aside for 5 to 7 minutes only to allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the remaining ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten, about 30 seconds. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs, stirring to blend. Stir in the vanilla, then the flour mixture. Pour the batter evenly over the shortbread, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the batter. Gently pat them in place. Bake the brown ie until the top looks slightly cracked about 1 inch from the edge around the pan and feels soft to the touch, 27 to 30 minutes. Don’t overbake; the brownie will firm as it cools. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
To serve, using the edges of the foil as handles, lift the brownie slab onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the brownies straight down through the shortbread into 1 1/2-inch squares, or into any size desired. To store after cutting, return the bars to the pan, cover with aluminum foil, sealing the foil around the edges of and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.Yield: 3 dozen brownies.