Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shortie Bars-Let The Christmas Baking Begin

Fig.1. Make sure you enjoy your efforts with a proper espresso before you give these squares away.

It’s that time of year again in The Hungry Italian household. There’s 30lbs of butter in the freezer (I’m not exaggerating), and 30lbs of flour resting next to 30 lbs of sugar in the garage. My wife, Lisa, along with her mother and sister, bake about 30 different types of goodies: Assorted shortbreads, decadent bars and tempting cookies get stuffed into metal tins which are then given out to friends, family and freeloaders alike.
This year I’ve convinced my wife to share some of the recipes, (which is a relief as some of you are aware that baking just isn’t my thing) as well as take pictures of her creations. I hope you give some of them a try; despite the initial investment, you do save money in the long term (just think about all the little presents you hand out: bus driver, teachers, hockey coach, mailman—you get the idea). They’re also great to have handy, just pull them out when company comes over or bring them to your next Christmas party instead of that usual bottle of wine.

Shortie Bars
These squares are basically nothing more than shortbreads with a chocolate surface; this recipe was adapted from the back of an old Chipit bag.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen 1” squares

1 ½ cups salted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (You can add more if you want a thicker chocolate topping)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; gradually blend in flour until mixed thoroughly (mixture will be crumbly). Pat your dough evenly into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes—or until lightly brown. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the surface. Let the chocolate completely soften, then spread evenly. Let the chocolate set to a consistency where it’s easy to cut without cracking, cut into squares, then let set properly in the fridge. Freeze until needed.

Fig.2. The "ends", as we refer to them, are pieces cut along the sides of the pan which can't really be used because they are not straight and are too crumbly. Fortunately for my son and I, they taste just as good as the squares.

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