I thought that Austrian Chocolate Walnut Bars sounded amazing. Shortbread plus apricot preserves plus chocolate walnut layer plus ganache – why wouldn’t I want to make that?
It’s not a recipe to make when you’re short on time. First you assemble a shortbread layer, which has to bake for 10 minutes. You brush apricot preserves on it while still warm. Then, you make the chocolate walnut layer, which involves grinding toasted walnuts (there ended up being a few pieces of nuts that I didn’t grind well) and mixing it with eggs, cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. You pour that layer on top of the preserves and bake for 30 minutes, until set.
For the chocolate ganache layer, I melted a bar of Ghiradelli chocolate with some chocolate chips, and I accidentally poured a little extra rum in that layer. You’re supposed to let this cool completely before you make and spread the chocolate ganache (which includes chocolate, butter, corn syrup, and rum) on the bars once they’re completely cool. I was impatient, so at some point I decided that the bars were probably cool enough to top. I put the pan in the fridge to help everything set overnight.
These were really good. The chocolate walnut layer was gooey; I’m not sure if it was meant to be (although the original picture doesn’t look gooey), if I should have baked it a couple of extra minutes (even though I thought it looked set), or if pouring the chocolate ganache on it while warm made the layer soggy. Even so, the bars tasted good. The fruity flavor of the apricot preserves helped cut through the richness of the chocolate walnut layer. The shortbread layer also helped balance this out. I took these to work, and people liked them, particularly noting the rum in the ganache and the hint of fruit from the apricot preserves. These took a little more work than some bar cookies, but they’re worth it for a special occasion. I’d make them again, but I’d probably bake them a tiny bit longer to get the chocolate walnut layer to set, and I would make sure I left enough time for everything to cool.