A simple Sunday snack here to celebrate sleeping in and cozying up. Maybe you'll get in a walk if the sun is out or maybe you'll decide to curl up on the couch with a blanket watching food shows all day.
Either way, there's time to make Silky Chocolate Cashew Cookie Squares.
Start with a tender shortbread base that takes only minutes to prepare and less than 20 minutes to bake. Then you are done with the oven.
The topping is pure ganache. You will need plenty of chocolate. That's never a problem.
To make the base you only need a bowl and a wooden spoon. You can use a mixer but it's Sunday and time's on our side and I'd rather listen to the sound of morning birds than a motor. Beat soft butter with sugar and as much elbow grease as you can muster until it is very light and fluffy. Let it turn almost white in colour. Stir in vanilla extract and salt and then sift the flour into the bowl. Now gently fold it in to form a soft dough.
With floured hands, gently press the dough into a lined baking pan to make an even layer and bake until lightly golden. Let it cool completely.
Making the topping is simple. The key is to chop up the chocolate as fine as you can so that it melts quickly and evenly to make a smooth emulsion - that's what making a ganache is, it is an emulsion and emulsions can break if they are not made with love.
Pour honey-sweetened hot cream over the chocolate and let the heat melt it down and bring everything to the same temperature before starting to gently stir from the center out to the edges until it melts into glossy silky smoothness. Stir in a couple tablespoons of butter to give it an even more luscious mouthfeel, and of course, salt!
Arrange cashews as you wish over the top and DO roast them. Roasted cashews taste nothing like raw ones. They are buttery, rich and full of umami.
I hope you have a delicious Sunday.
Silky Chocolate Cashew Cookie Squares
makes 16 squares
For the base:
8 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
For the topping:
8 oz (227g) dark chocolate, at least 60% cocoa
2/3 cup (150ml) 35% whipping cream
2 tbsp (30ml) honey
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
handful of roasted cashews
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
To make the base, cream together butter, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Sift flour over the mixture and fold it in until combined. Turn dough out into prepared pan and press it down evenly to form a flat layer. Grab a piece of parchment paper and lay it on top of the crust to help smooth it over or run the back of a spoon over the surface. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until evenly golden on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the topping.
To make the chocolate ganache, place chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
Combine cream and honey in a 2-quart heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate in the bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes before gently stirring until completely melted and smooth. Stir in butter and salt. Pour ganache over cooled shortbread base and arrange roasted cashews over top. Sprinkle with extra flaked sea salt if desired. Refrigerate until set, slice and serve.