Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peach Melba Linzer Bars

I am totally in love with these bars.  

I've never made a Linzer bar before, but I will definitely be making them again.  They are so stinkin' good!  The reason why they are so delicious?  Toasted hazelnuts.  Amazing.

These bars were a lot of work to make.  Between roasting and skinning the hazelnuts, preparing the dough and rolling out and filling the pastry, it probably took half the day to complete this dessert.  It was so worth it.  I refused to share any of these bars with anyone else.  So. Good.

The major delicious part of this dessert is the hazelnut dough.  You can totally fill the pastry with your favorite jam.  I went with a combination of raspberry and peach, a little take on the peach melba.  Since this treat is filled with jam, rather than fresh fruit, you can make it at any time of the year.  I plan on making it again in the winter, with jam made from this summers farmers market fruits.

One Year Ago: Gorgonzola & Leek Risotto
Two Years Ago: Pork Tenderloin Salad
Three Years Ago: Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream

Peach Melba Raspberry bars

This cookbook had been hit or miss for me.  The flavors have been amazing, but the recipes don't always come out like they should.  The dough for this recipe required a little tweaking before I was able to roll and shape it.  It also might help to make this recipe when it isn't 80 degrees in your kitchen.  The dough is soft and loses its shape quickly.  The fridge was my friend during this process.

I bought skinned hazelnuts from my specialty store and toasted them in the oven.  You can also buy natural hazelnuts and remove the skins yourself.  Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 ºF for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skins crack.  Remove them from the oven and wrap the nuts up in a kitchen towel for 1 minute.  Rub the nuts in the towel until the majority of the skins come off.  Don't worry if there are still some skins stuck to the nuts.

For the pastry

12 ounces hazelnuts
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted European butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 ºF.  Toast hazelnuts for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the smell amazing.  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Place cooled nuts in the food processor and add 3 tablespoons sugar.  Pulse until finely ground.  Don't overprocess or your'll wind up with hazelnut butter.  Transfer ground nuts to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Add butter, 1 cup sugar and kosher salt.  Beat on medium high until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.  Scrape down bowl and add vanilla, stir to combine.  Add flour mixture all at once and mix on low until combined.

Divide dough in two and shape into two rectangles and wrap in plastic.  Toss in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

To make the bars

3/4 cups raspberry preserves
3/4 cup peach jam
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons sanding sugar

Coat a 9x13-inch rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Take out 1 of your dough rectangles and roll out to 10x14 inches.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of your prepared cookie sheet.

Mix the raspberry preserves and peach jam together.  Pour over the dough and spread into the thin layer.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Remove second dough rectangle from the fridge and roll out to 9x13-inches, between two layers of parchment paper.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into 1/2-inch strips.  Remove the jam-filled bottom from the fridge and lay dough strips the long way, leaving 1/2-inch between each strip.  Using the remaining dough strips, weave the remaining strips into a lattice pattern, under and over the first strips.  Or you can cut and piece the dough so it looks like it's weaved.

Preheat oven to 350 ºF.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is puffy and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Cut into bars and enjoy with some vanilla ice cream!
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