With ‘Cookie Love,’ take your baking game to the next level.
Books for Cooks
We recommend: “Cookie Love” by Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy (Ten Speed Press, $24.99.)
What’s special: A decorated pastry chef and “cookie nerd” shows us how to take our cookies to the next level. It helps to have a stand mixer and a candy thermometer if you want to bake your way through the book, but Segal provides plenty of useful tips to help improve even the basics.
Local appearances: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 16, cookie class at the Hot Stove Society Cooking School, 2000 Fourth Ave., Seattle; $50, including lunch, treats and a book (206-436-0383 or hotstovesociety.com). Segal will also have a free baking demo and signing at 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Book Larder, 4252 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle (206-397-4271 or booklarder.com).
Honey Walnut Bars
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Makes 24 bars
For the shortbread:
¾ cup (6 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
For the walnut caramel:
¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup mild honey (such as clover)
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup whole walnuts
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
To make the shortbread:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a quarter sheet (9-by-13-inch) pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, flour and salt on low speed until the dough starts to resemble pebbles, approximately 6 minutes.
3. Put the shortbread dough into the prepared pan. Using your fingers, press the shortbread into the pan, being sure not to ignore the corners. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Using a pastry roller, roll the dough into submission to even out the surface. Refrigerate until chilled, 20 minutes.
4. Remove the plastic wrap. Bake the shortbread, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until golden brown and baked through, 25 to 28 minutes. If you notice it puffing up as it bakes, press it down gently with a clean kitchen towel and continue baking it. Cool to room temperature.
To make the walnut caramel:
1. Attach a candy thermometer to a 3-quart heavy saucepan. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the honey, sugars, vanilla and salts.
2. Heat the mixture, stirring often, to 220 degrees, approximately 3 minutes. Pour in the cream and cook, stirring often, to 238 degrees, 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir in all the nuts and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more.
3. Pour the nut caramel over the shortbread and spread with an offset spatula. Let the nut caramel cool completely.
4. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 4 strips lengthwise and 6 strips crosswise.
The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.