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National Dessert Day + Florentine Chocolate Bars

the urban baker: National Dessert Day + Florentine Chocolate Bars

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

National Dessert Day + Florentine Chocolate Bars

Last Thursday, October 14th, was National Dessert Day.  To celebrate the day, I baked several things:

Chocolate Pecan Biscotti • Carole Bloom - intensely chocolate

Florentine Shortbread bars • Fine Cooking Magazine

Lemon Drop Cookies • my recipe

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes • my recipes

The Florentine Shortbread Bar were "sick".  These bars are so good, that I couldn't decide it they were a cookie, a candy or a pastry.  They were  all that, wrapped into one.  I love a good Florentine cookies and have been known to make Rose Levy Beranbaum's from time to time.  I think it is the caramel aspect of it all.  Caramel is my 5th food group.  So, if I see caramel anything on a menu I am sure to order it.  Finding a recipe with a caramel element, is no different.

In honor of National Dessert Day, I salute all of you chefs, bakers, home cooks, cookbook authors, and fellow food bloggers who continue to inspire me and motivate me to get into my kitchen pretty much seven days a week!

Chocolate Drizzled Florentines
adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
yield: about 60 pieces (depending upon how you cut them)

for the dough
14 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups ( 1lb. 5oz.) all-purpose flour

for the topping
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 Tbls. light corn syrup
7 oz. unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
1 cup heavy cream
17 oz. sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
3 oz. each semisweet chocolate + bittersweet chocolate

make the dough:
• in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, zest, sugar, and salt and beat until light and fluffy.  add the egg, scraping down the side of the bowl after mixing.
• add the flour, in three batches, mix until well blended.
• form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  chill for 1 hour.
• preheat oven to 350*.
• line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty foil.  butter the foil and set aside.
• between two pieces of parchment, roll the dough to 1/4" thick.  remove the top layer of the parchment from the dough and flip it into your prepared pan.  once in the pan, remove the second sheet of parchment and with your fingers or with the palm of your hand, spread dough so it evenly rests inside the sheet pan.  make sure to get it into the corners of the pan.
• chill until firm.
• lay a piece of parchment on top of the chilled dough.  set a second jelly roll pan on top of the parchment lined dough (this is a better method than using pie weights) and press gently.  the second sheet pan acts as a weight, creating a very even crust when baked.
• bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and the sheet pan and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
• cool completely on a wire rack.

for the topping:
• in a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil.  cook until the mixture becomes amber in color.
• the recipe in the magazine says 350* on your candy thermometer.  yet, I found that cooking it until about 315-320* was perfectly amber in color.  my was starting to smell "burnt" at this point, so I removed it from the heat.
• carefully add the butter and the honey, return to heat and stir until dissolved.
• bring the mixture back to a boil and carefully add the heavy cream ( it will bubble and this is very hot sugar, so be careful not to burn yourself).
• boil the mixture until it reaches 250* on a candy thermometer.
• remove from the heat and stir in the almonds and dried apricots.
• quickly pour the hot caramel over the cooked baked sugar cookie crust.  spread mixture evenly with a greased, off set spatula.
• bake until the top begins to bubble, about 20-25 minutes.
• let cool completely. once cool remove from pan and cut into desired size pieces.
• set cut Florentine bars on 2 parchment lined cookie sheets.
• melt both chocolates on top of a double boiler.  once melted add about a tablespoon of corn syrup.
• fill a pastry bag fitted with a very small tip, with the warm chocolate.  pipe chocolate onto cookies in whatever pattern you desire.
• set on wire racks so chocolate can set ( you may have to stick in the fridge for a bit).

Enjoy these bars!

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Blogger Maria said...

I will enjoy these bars, thanks:)

October 18, 2010 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

Hmm I would certainly enjoy the bars, if I could get my hands on them! Looks so yummy!

October 18, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous marla said...

I actually made a giant b'day cake this weekend. I respect bakers so much. From the pros to domestic divas, baking requires true patience & skill. These bars look great & I too LOVE caramel :) xo

October 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Debbie B. said...

Had no clue national dessert day existed! It's going on my calendar for next year! The desserts look awesome.

October 18, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

These are gorgeous, the layers are "sick" lol, love that word.

October 18, 2010 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger ~Lisa~ said...

Oh my! They're all amazing. Do you take orders? National Dessert day is my kind of day (-=

October 18, 2010 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Love these bars, they look so good!

October 18, 2010 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Wow, I didn't know that there is a Nwtional Dessert's Day! The bars look really good though I wish you could have given us a closer look at it to salivate over :)....

October 18, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

like the way you made Florentine into bars...look very modern and nice. Love your photos...very pretty

October 18, 2010 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger showfoodchef said...

Oh, these bars look sticky, crunchy, chocolaty - I can't wait to try these. Just gorgeous.

October 18, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Wow, you made all those things in one day?? I'm impressed.

Blogher sounds like a lot of fun too.

October 18, 2010 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger The Urban Baker said...

Hey lisa - funny you should ask. I am in the process of developing a frozen dough product line! however, your baked goods are quite spectacular, if I do say so myself!

October 18, 2010 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger ♥peachkins♥ said...

these bars are fantastic

October 18, 2010 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Angie's Recipes said...

That's my favourite type of cookies! The nuttier, the merrier!


October 18, 2010 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Patricia Scarpin said...

These are luscious, Susan! Actually, each and every dessert looks amazing - how would you feel about moving to Sao Paulo? ;)

October 19, 2010 at 3:46 AM  
Blogger The Urban Baker said...

Patricia - I have entertained the idea of moving to lots of places. But, Soa Paulo is on my bucket list as a place I would love to visit! You and I need to talk! xx

October 19, 2010 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Mary @Delightful Bitefuls said...

Okay, those shortbread bars have my name ALL over them! So making those!!!!!! Yum!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

October 19, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What a fun way to celebrate by baking up so many delicious goodies. From your description of them, those bars sound amazing.

October 19, 2010 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous naomi said...

I love Florentines, so I can't wait to give this a go.

They look fantastic!

October 19, 2010 at 9:57 AM  
Anonymous blackbookkitchendiaries said...

what a pretty bar:) full of flavors and texture. thank you for sharing.

October 19, 2010 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Dang! I missed National Coffee Day and now I miss National Dessert Day??? Who is in charge of informing us of these very important holidays???

Well, you certainly did the day justice, with those bars. Oh man, they look delicious.

October 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart) said...

All those beautiful bars on one day - lucky family! And the pics - instant craving, yikes :)

October 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Eliana said...

Hmmm - thanks so much for sharing this recipe. They look amazing and sinfully delicious.

October 22, 2010 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger M. said...

wow! you do know how to celebrate the dessert day!

all recipes sound mouthwatering!

November 8, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

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