If you are what you eat, then I'm rich, good-looking, and incredibly easy. Wait, what? Well, luckily I'm not what I eat, but what I'm calling Million Dollar Shortbread Bars (as a sort of homage to Millionaire's Shortbread, to which I'd consider these a cousin) are all of those things and more.
Let me explain. It all went down after Walker's Shorbread sent me a big box of their goodies to use in my inventive baking experiments (hard life, I know). Now, I consider their shortbread good already, but I thought I could really make it sing by mashing it together with chocolate and almonds. And butter. Because...
Oh, I should also mention that I needed something fast--with no dessert on hand, this was something of a dessert 911. But who knew that what began as a quest for a quick and tasty dessert would yield such a treasure?
Here's what I did.
First, I crushed a box of Quadruple Chocolate Crunch Biscuits and a box of Pure Butter Vanilla Shortbread, mashing them together on pulse mode in a powerful blender, along with 3 tablespoons of melted butter. On a whim, I decided to add about 3 ounces of almond paste (you know, the kind in the silver tube). I pulsed until it was all nicely incorporated. Then, I pressed it into a pan and baked until nice and toasty.
Meanwhile, I melted about 4 ounces of chocolate with half a stick o' butter. When I took the crust out of the oven, I poured the melty chocolate on top, then sprinkled it with some toasted almonds (I toasted them in the residual heat of the oven after baking the crust) and a sprinkling of salt.
And Oh. My. God. How to describe the experience of biting into one of these nuggets of pure pleasure? They are the perfect marriage of chocolate and shortbread and almonds, all wrapped together in a big, buttery hug. Oddly but not unpleasantly, the almond paste in the crust paired with the chocolate almost gave it a cherry-ish taste. A single bite is a powerhouse, stopping you in your tracks because you simply don't know how to handle all the awesome in your mouth. How could such complexity come from such a seemingly humble bite? Moreover, this is a dessert that is surprising, sublime, and overwhelming--so decadent that you think you should probably stop, but you just can't. Proof is evident by the fact that a friend and I ate almost the entire pan in one sitting (no, really). That's why all the pictures are of the same two little pieces of the bars. They were all that was left!
As previously mentioned, I've named them to give homage to Millionaire's Shortbread, but I've changed the name because they're related, but not quite the same.
Million Dollar Shortbread Bars
- 1 box Quadruple chocolate crunch biscuits
- 1 box Pure Butter Vanilla Shortbread
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 ounces almond paste
- 4 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan.
Combine the cookies and melted butter in a food processor or blender with a pulse mode. Press it into the pan and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden on the edges (hard to see because of the chocolate; look for a dull, toasty finish). Remove from the oven. You can toast the almonds at the same time for a few minutes during the baking (it will take about 5 minutes or so to toast 'em).
While this bakes, melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. Gently pour over the finished crust (it's ok if it is still quite warm) and spread as gently as possible so you don't tear up the delicate crust. Sprinkle the toasty almonds on top, and add a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Let them cool before serving for optimum prettiness, but if you're greedy like me, eat them right away with the chocolate still melty on top.