Starting with a pressed in buttery shortbread crust these chocolate-drizzled caramel-hazelnut bars are then covered with a rich topping of hazelnuts, caramel and just enough bittersweet chocolate drizzle to edge them into the bite of chocolate category. Although it’s best to lightly drizzle on the chocolate so as not to cover up too much of the beautiful hazelnuts. I ordered dry roasted hazelnuts ahead of time from Hazelnut Hill in Oregon because I planned on making several pans of these tender fully loaded shortbread bars for Christmas gifts. Someday I would like to visit their orchard store in Corvallis, Oregon. In the meantime I’m just going to enjoy the Oregon hazelnuts that I had delivered to my home.
Making these bars was a fun project, the only snafu I ran into was with the first batch -I didn’t use enough baking spray on the pan, these dudes are really sticky and difficult to remove from the pan. So for the subsequent batches I sprayed and double lined my pan with foil and sprayed again before baking my bars. I also unstuck the edges, especially the corners between the foil and the pan after the bars came out of the oven – as soon as the pan was cool enough to handle.
I made my chocolate-drizzled caramel-hazelnut bars for a food blogger’s holiday cookie exchange and lunch at The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco yesterday. I placed the bars in pretty holiday bags nestled in candy cane patterned tissue tied them with red raffia and boxed them in cute Christmas holiday themed take out boxes tied with ribbons from Cost Plus World Market – after all it was a food blogger’s cookie exchange I had to go all out!
Adapted from Christmas Cookies Better Homes and Gardens.
- 3 & 1/2 cups hazelnuts
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate pieces
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons shortening
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10 minutes until toasted, place the warm nuts on a clean kitchen towel and rub the skins off the nuts-discard the skins on the towel.
- Or buy dry roasted hazelnuts, ready to use.
- Set the nuts aside
- Spray a 13x9x2 " metal baking pan with baking spray then line it with foil lengthwise and crosswise coated again with baking spray (allow enough foil to overhang the pan on all sides to help remove the solid bar before cutting into squares)-set pan aside.
- In a food processor pulse to combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt.
- Add the 3/4 cup butter cut in pieces to the bowl.
- Cover and pulse until the butter is cut into small crumb like pieces in the flour mixture, it will be sandy.
- Press the sandy mixture evenly and firmly into the prepared pan.
- Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the edges are a light brown and the center looks firm.
- Cool on a metal rack while you make the hazelnut filling.
- In a medium saucepan combine the brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter and the heavy cream.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stir in the hazelnuts.
- Spoon the hazelnut mixture over the cooled partially baked crust.
- Bake for about 22 minutes or until the filling is golden, bubbly and slightly darker around the edges.
- Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
- When the pan is cool enough to handle run a thin flat knife around the inside edges of the pan, between the pan and the foil-making sure the sides and especially corners are unstuck before bars are completely cool (will be easier to remove the bar for cutting).
- Use the foil handles to lift the completely cool bar onto a cutting board.
- Using a long sharp knife cut into bars, trimming the edges if you like.
- Using a small microwave safe bowl add the chocolate pieces and shortening.
- On medium power heat the chocolate mixture in about 25-40 second intervals- stirring each time-until melted and smooth (or melt over low heat in a small saucepan on top of the stove).
- Drizzle the mixture over the bars and let stand until the chocolate is set.
- Place the bars between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.