Bars, slices, squares, whatever you call them, are almost like a bride who needs something old, new, borrowed and blue. For good bars you need something crusty for the base, something crunchy for the middle, something gooey for the topping and a finishing touch of chocolate, icing or at least icing sugar.
My building exercise starts with simple shortcrust base, but not too flakey – you need to a/ cut them neatly and b/ grab them without a danger of disintegration. Pasta frolla is fancily (because Italian) named shortcrust pastry and I’ve found Gina DePalma’s (Dolce Italiano) recipe that uses a little cream in the mix, which makes it a bit more cohesive. Tick.
Crunchy – that’s dead easy: pecans, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, the world is your nutshell. I went for almonds because I like them best but chop up any nuts you like, or throw in pumpkin or sunflower instead for the crunchy factor. Tick.
The gooey element in my recipe is completely unbeatable; I dare you to think of something gooier than the ooey gooey St Louis cake topping. Stuff caramels and fudges – this is gooey central with raisins for a good measure. The added beauty is, you can control the gooey factor by adjusting the baking time. Bake with the topping on for about 20 minutes and you’ll get soft and wobbly texture; bake for close to 40 for a crust on top. Tick.
And the finishing touch? Yes, you can drizzle melted choc over baked bars; you can swirl some lemon icing to match the lemony base or you can dust everything with icing sugar. I didn’t. Come on – they are LETHAL calorie-wise as they are.