(or “Honey Nut Squares” for those non-Italian speakers amongst you!)
It’s funny how food blogging has changed the way I think about what we’re going to eat/ bring to friends’ houses/ serve to our own guests etc… This month’s entry for Gourmet Unbound is a good example.
A couple of weeks ago, Neil emailed me the information about his curling club’s annual “bakeoff” and wondered whether I might contribute something this year. We boycotted last year in protest since my home made lamingtons had not made the cut the previous year (seriously, people, what WERE you thinking?). I looked ahead at my blogging ideas list and saw I needed to make something for Gourmet Unbound and since my previous two entries have been savory, I figured why not try something sweet. So from March 2003, I chose Honey Nut Squares.
The recipe called for honey which, too late, I realised I didn’t have, so I substituted Golden Syrup and beautiful buckwheat honey, sent to me by the lovely Linda, aka SaltySeattle (post to come of the goodies her food exchange package included!). I also substituted whole pistachios for the pine nuts since I though it would give the nut/ caramel mix some colour. So yeah, it’s kinda sorta Gourmet Unbound! Look at how beautifully it came out though:
And up close, cut into squares:
I love how the pistachios add that little splash of colour to an otherwise orangey hue.
And the crust? Errrr, yes, it’s a bit thick. Pastry, like bread baking, really is not my thing and I was making this in the middle of tweeting and emailing back and forth with Barb from VinoLuci, who was kindly helping me out with my permalink nightmare after transferring my blog to WordPress. So I guess the pastry was baked with a handful pinch of my stress and didn’t come out as evenly as it should have. It also didn’t taste quite as buttery as I would have liked, however, it did win second prize at the Curling bakeoff – a $30 gift card to Williams Sonoma! Maybe once they’re back in stock with coeur à la crème molds (ahem – remember when I was attempting to buy them two days before St Valentine’s???), I might splash out! If you’re wondering why I didn’t win first prize, well it doesn’t really matter since the prize was a cookbook which I certainly don’t need any more of!!!
In any case, it’s a pretty easy recipe, especially if baking IS your thing and well worth a try.
Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup whole almonds with skins (3 oz), toasted
3/4 cup hazelnuts (4 oz), toasted and any loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel
1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz), lightly toasted
Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper
Make crust: Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan (2 inches deep) and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.
Blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Add egg and stir with a fork (or pulse) until a crumbly dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Press dough evenly onto bottom (but not up sides) of baking pan and bake in middle of oven until edges are golden and begin to pull away from sides of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.
Make topping: Bring honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add butter and cream and boil, stirring,1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in all nuts until completely coated.
Pour nut mixture over pastry crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into 25 squares.
Cooks’ note: Honey nut squares keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.