Friday, January 15, 2010

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

When I first started baking many years ago, I made a lot of Pillsbury Bake-Off recipes. I like that they usually have an unusual twist or just have something unique about them. I guess if they weren’t a little bit special then they would never make it to the competition. One thing I don’t like is that so many recipes depend on premade cookie dough, cake or bread mixes, or other packaged things. I understand that they are trying to sell their product, but I prefer to make things from scratch. (I do use packaged pie crust from time to time, so it’s not all bad.)

I saw this recipe in an old Bake-Off cookbook that I had sitting on the bookshelf, and I thought that the orange and hazelnut combination would be good. The base of this cookie was originally refrigerated sugar cookie dough. I decided to make my own sugar cookie dough, and they worked just fine. I don’t know if the amount of dough I used was equal to the 18 ounce package of sugar cookie dough or no, but it seemed to be about the same amount. I did bake them at the longer end of the time ranges, but other than that I didn’t notice any difference.

These come together very quickly, even though I made my own cookie dough. These are more cakelike than you might expect from a bar cookie. They are also not very sweet, the perfect sort of cookie to serve with coffee or tea. The orange flavor isn’t very strong, more of a subtle sweetness. After weeks of rich, sweet treats from the holidays, these are a nice change of pace.

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup chopped hazelnuts, divided

½ cup sugar
5 teaspoons flour

1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon orange zest

¼ cup orange juice

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixer bowl, cream powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and egg. Stir in the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix until combined. Press the dough into the bottom of an ungreased 9” x 13” pan. Sprinkle the dough with ½ cup chopped hazelnuts; press the nuts into the dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until dough is puffed. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While the cookies are baking, in a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, corn syrup, orange zest, orange juice, butter, egg, and remaining ½ cup of hazelnuts. Carefully pour the corn syrup mixture over the partially baked cookies. Bake for 18-23 minutes or until edges are golden brown and filling is set. Cool ten minutes and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe adapted from the
38th Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook. Cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

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