There’s a time when circumstances require enormous reserves of willpower, and then there’s the rest of your life. This is a cookie bar for the former.
Now, I consider myself a person with pretty good skills when it comes to willpower (with the notable exceptions of popcorn and pasta –and those are usually further compromised by red wine). But these little cookie bars have tested my self–discipline and pretty much brought me to my knees. I have hid them under foil, I have given them away, I have stashed them in the back fridge, but I have been humbled by my inadequate reserves of self restraint and I have only myself to blame.
It all began with this perfectly lovely recipe for raspberry bars from the good folks at Fine Cooking. They caught my eye as a possible addition to my holiday baking as the raspberry looked and sounded so festive and delicious. As I read the recipe through, I noticed the presence of toasted hazelnuts in the cookie dough and my mind leapt instantly to Nutella (our beloved chocolate hazelnut spread), and how incredibly amazing it would be to sneak in a layer of it under the raspberry, because if there is one thing I am powerless to resist (besides popcorn and pasta), it’s the exquisite pairing of chocolate and raspberry, especially when sandwiched between 2 layers of an impossibly delicious shortbread cookie crust.
See, I knew from the get-go that these could very well be my undoing. And I made them anyway. And I guess I’m just sayin’ that you should too.
We start with toasting and chopping some hazelnuts…
And then mixing them into the rest of the dough ingredients and then spread most of it on the bottom of our 9x13 baking pan (lined with parchment paper).
And then top that with our Nutella-chocolate spread...
And then top that with raspberry jam...
And then top that with the rest of the hazelnut cookie dough. And all of that gets baked until it’s beautifully browned on top…
And then after it’s cooled, you’re going to cut it into little squares...
and then hide them somewhere you can’t find them. Otherwise, you might as well just go out now and buy yourself the next jean size up. Here’s the recipe…
RASPBERRY-NUTELLA COOKIE BARS
These cookie bars are so good I don't even know where to start. I got the original recipe for raspberry bars from Fine Cooking and they would have been amazing without the Nutella layer, but with hazelnuts in the cookie dough and chocolate/raspberry being one of my favorite combinations, I couldn't resist adding in that Nutella. I toasted the hazelnuts on a sheet pan in my toaster oven, and then placed them on a clean towel and then rubbed the towel over the hazelnuts which took off most of the loose skins. It's OK if you can't get them all off. I let them cool and then chopped them in the food processor. As for the Nutella/chocolate mixture, this makes enough to make a fairly thick layer of chocolate, but I didn't want to overwhelm the raspberry flavors, and ended up only using about 3/4 of it. You can use all of it or just a little, depending on how much chocolate you would like in your cookie bars.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
3 sticks (3/4 lb) + 2 tablespoons room temperature butter
1-2/3 cup granulated sugar
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chopped, toasted hazelnuts
2 cups raspberry preserves
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup Nutella chocolate spread
Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix just enough to incorporate. Add the nuts and mix a little longer until just blended.
Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared pan.
Place the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave, 30-45 seconds at a time, stirring until melted. Stir the Nutella spread into the melted chocolate. Set aside.
Spread the Nutella chocolate mixture over the dough on the bottom of the pan and then spread the raspberry jam over the chocolate. Crumble the remaining dough on top. Bake for about an hour, until the top is lightly browned.
Let cool completely. As the cookies are cooling, use a knife to loosen the edges of the cookie bars. When they are completely cooled, grab the edges of the parchment paper, lift it out of the pan and slice into bars.