Friday, October 8, 2010

Apricot Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Slices

This is a glorified chocolate chip bar cookie chock full of toasted hazelnuts, dried apricots and crystallized ginger. There’s something about the co-mingling of all these elements that’s just so perfectly good. The apricots are a nice acidic foil for the sweetness and richness of the chocolate. The nuts provide another layer of texture and earthy flavor. The ginger perks up the whole mixture with bright spice and a very light note of heat. The result is a pastry that is moist and chewy with lots of gorgeous flavors dancing across your palate.

The idea for this recipe came from a delicious mendiant I made several Christmas seasons ago with these same chocolate, fruit and nut elements. I‘d been thinking about doing something more with that original flavor combination and I think it works out very well in this chunky configuration.

Once you chop the fruit, ginger and nuts, this whole mixture comes together very quickly. Part of the great appeal of bar cookies is that they don't require any scooping or rolling. The dough is baked into one large presentation and sliced into portions according to whim.

As you stock your pantry with dried fruit and nuts for this baking season, consider this pastry. It would be great for a potluck or impromptu party, a certain little indulgent treat for your table to take off the chill of fall.

Bench notes:

- To toast hazelnuts, put them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and the skins look cracked. Watch them carefully as hazelnuts can turn bitter if toasted too long. Remove from the oven and wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to let steam for 1 minute. Then rub them together to loosen and remove as much of the skin as possible. Cool completely.
- A mendiant (“beggar” in French) is a simple confection that consists of small poured disks of chocolate topped with fruit and nuts. First made in the monasteries of France at Christmas, tradition originally dictated the use of almonds for the Carmelite order, hazelnuts for the Augustins, raisins for the Dominicans and dried figs for Franciscans. But now they are decorated with all sorts of other nuts, seeds and dried fruit, dictated only by personal preference.
- You might also enjoy Oatmeal Shortbread and Italian Sbrisolona, absolutely fantastic cookies baked in a similar fashion.

Apricot Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Slices
Makes about 16 slices

4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1 egg @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
1 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
scant 1 C semisweet chocolate chips (about 5 oz)
1/2 C dried apricots (about 3 oz)
1/2 C toasted hazelnuts (about 2 oz)
3 T crystallized ginger (about 1 oz)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the toasted hazelnuts and apricots. Finely chop the crystallized ginger.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until thoroughly combined, about 2 -3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and combine just until barely mixed and a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips, dried apricots, crystallized ginger and chopped hazelnuts until thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread into a smooth and even layer.

Bake until slightly golden, about 22 - 24 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Run a small spatula or a thin knife around the edge of the pan and release the springform ring. Use a platter to carefully invert the pastry and remove the bottom pan and the parchment paper. Invert again and transfer the pastry to a cutting board or a serving platter.


Anonymous said...

These look so good, and your oatmeal shortbread is a family favorite. I like the slice here instead of the traditional cookie shape or bar. Very nice.

Antonietta said...

These cookies contain everything I love! Can't wait to try them! Thanks

amanda@seegirlcook said...

ohhh, what a lovely combination! definitely a must try....thanks for the recipe!:)

Lucie said...

I like the inspiration from the mendiant--two totally different results! I would have this for dessert and a mendiant with some tea afterwards.

John said...

The cookie looks so good. Sorry, pastry. Getting the ingredients right now...

vanillasugarblog said...

my great grandmother used to dip dried apricots in choco and i loved them. she got me into 'mixing flavors' at such a young age.
so yes, i can see why these all fit nicely together.

Bunny said...

Oh my word these look so good, I've never tried apricots and chocolate together. But girl you've got me wanting too!

Damselette said...

will it be very sweet?

Damselette said...

Hi! I actually made this today. But worst part is... I made a mistake at the beginning! I mixed sugar and eggs instead if creaming sugar and butter! Man... It didnt raise half as much. It was a bit too sweet for my liking though :) Thanks for sharing

pastry studio said...

Damslette, sorry you didn't have good luck with this. Creaming the sugar and the butter is essential to create air bubbles that, when combined with a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda that inflate those bubbles as the batter bakes, cause the pastry to rise.

I cut back on the sugar as much as possible without sacrificing texture, but the chocolate chips do add more sweetness.

Cook with Claire said...

Another fabulous recipe from Pastry Studio!! My daughter will bring these for her school birthday snack --she is thrilled! Thank you.

pastry studio said...

Cook with Claire, I'm thrilled to hear your daughter will be sharing this with her classmates! Happy birthday to her!

Thanks to all for your very kind comments. They make my work a lot more fun.

Cristina @ TeenieCakes said...

I luv chocolate chip cookies in bar form. This is like a cookie pie and serving in slices makes it that more elegant. Good looking recipe!

astheroshe said...

i love coconut..and those look great!

saturday mike said...

I made these yesterday, and they are FANTASTIC. I did make one change, however. I baked them in a square pan, rather than a springform pan.
The dough came together easily, was a bit tricky to spread (It's thick! I just worked slowly and patiently at spreading it out) and baked up beautifully!
Definitely something I'll make again.

pastry studio said...

saturday mike, nice to hear from you on a Saturday! Thanks very much for your positive feedback. These cookie slices are really easy and delicious. Glad the larger pan worked out for you. I love this combo of flavors but you can of course always tailor other dried fruits and nuts and spice to create your own nirvana!