Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chocolate Mascarpone Toffee Bars

Before I share a yum diddly ummy recipe with you loyal followers, let me say these 3 things that may slightly make up for my recent absence from blogging. 

1. I am currently looking for a full time paying job, its kind of a big deal, I know. Thankfully, I have been having a few interviews lately which is great, but has also taken my time away from blogging. Excuse #1

2. Do you ever get tired  of food? Like when you are on a road trip and eat lots of junk and you never want to look at food again? Or after Thanksgiving when you have eaten 2 months of food in a 72 hour time frame? Or when your kitchen gets dirty so often that once you finally clean it you can't bear the thought of dirtying it with that obnoxious meal called dinner?  I have been suffering from the above lately but I am slowly trying to come around to food again. Excuse#2

3. I don't have a third excuse but I am going to repent with a little Christmas giveaway being announced on Monday! Nothing huge [did I mention I don't have a job? lol] but just some cute fun Christmas stuff. 

Anyways, I truly love blogging and hearing from all of my readers so please stick with me! I promise to do better and I think I may share all dessert recipes in the coming weeks, you can't blame me right? Christmas = sweets  in my mind.

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Ok, so I will definitely share some more traditional Christmas treats later, but I think this is a really unique recipe that will knock guests' socks off at any holiday party.

Whenever I go to the grocery store I try to look for new ingredients to inspire me, I have heard of mascarpone before [particularly on Chopped in the dessert round....any Chopped people out there?] but never actually tasted it. Once I bought it, I had no idea what to make with it. 

Mascarpone is a "sweet Italian cream cheese" so you can use it in savory dishes but most of the recipes I saw used it as a sweeter cream cheese for things like pancakes, muffins, cakes etc. It doesn't have a strong flavor on its own, just like regular cream cheese but adds a richness to anything you add it to.


Look for this container, or similar one, in the fine cheeses section, although it might  be near the ricotta near the regular cheese too, just depends on your store. It will cost about $3.00 for a small tub so it's not an everyday ingredient but it is fun to splurge on every once in awhile!

Start by mixing pre-made sugar cookie dough with half of your toffee and some vanilla. I recommend leaving the dough on your counter for about 20-30 minutes so it is soft enough to stir together easily. Using a mixer also makes it easier to stir in the toffee bits. You can use these baking bits [easy!] or crush up 2 Skor or Heath bars. I like the bag because I can add more on the top of the finished product if I want to.


Then press this cookie dough into your pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. 
You will bake this crust first before adding the topping. I baked my cookie crust for 20 minutes in a 10 by 7 pan, but if you use an 8 by 8 it would probably take more like 25 minutes.


While the cookie crust is baking, melt your chocolate with some vegetable oil in a double boiler on the stove. To make a "double boiler", simmer a pot of water and then add a glass bowl with your chocolate chips, gradually stirring until they are melted beautifully. 

Of course, you can microwave too, but I have burned so many batches of chocolate in the microwave that I recommend proceeding with caution to avoid using profanities...


Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool for 10 minutes before whisking in the mascarpone cheese until smooth. 

You also need to toast some sliced almonds to go on top of these bars. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch them carefully as you do not want them too toasted. I forgot to take a picture of them toasted but notice their beautiful toasted color in the final photos. 


Finally, spread the mascarpone chocolate mixture on top of the cooled cookie crust. Then sprinkle toasted almonds and chocolate toffee bits on top. 


Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into bars and serving! 


Chocolate Toffee Mascarpone Bars
recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients
1 pound refrigerated sugar cookie dough [like Pillsbury]
1/3 cup or 2 Skor/Heath bars at 1.4 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup [8 ounces] mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. 

Spray a 7 by 10 or 8 by 8-inch nonstick baking pan with cooking spray.Line the pan with parchment so it overhangs the sides. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.


In a medium bowl, combine the cookie dough, 1/2 of the chopped chocolate-toffee candy pieces and vanilla extract. Using damp fingers, gently press the dough into the prepared pan. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 15-20 minutes for 7 by 10 pan or 20-25 minutes for an 8 by 8 pan or until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for 15 minutes.

Layer sliced almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. 


Place the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted. Cool the chocolate mixture for 10 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese until the mixture is smooth. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate-toffee candy pieces and sliced almonds over the chocolate mixture. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the chocolate layer is firm.


Peel off the parchment paper and cut into 1 1/2 by 2-inch bars. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!


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