Shortbread with Chocolate & Candied WalnutsMakes 16 squares
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup candied walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a piece of foil long enough to press up the sides of the pan, with a 1-inch overhang so you can pull the shortbread out in one piece.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the brown sugar and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Add the salt and flour, incorporating it gradually and stirring until thoroughly mixed. Spread the mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown.
3. Remove the shortbread from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot shortbread. Return the shortbread to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the chocolate has softened. Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate evenly with a metal spatula. Sprinkle the candied walnuts evenly over the chocolate.
4. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool the shortbread slightly for 20 minutes. Then transfer the pan to the refrigerator to cool for about 40 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened. Lift the shortbread out of the pans and cut into 16 pieces with a serrated knife. Arrange on a platter and serve.
Party PrepThe shortbread may be prepared up to 1 month ahead and stored in an airtight container in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving. They may also be kept up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
The Clever Cook Could: Double the recipe for a larger party. It is best to use two 8-inch pans rather than one larger one.
Present the shortbread in cellophane bags tied with ribbon as party favors.
Use different candied nuts or use toasted nuts instead.
Excerpted from Seriously Simple Parties: Recipes, Menus & Advice for Effortless Entertaining by Diane Rossen Worthington. Copyright © 2012 by Diane Rossen Worthington. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.