Whipping cream, dried sour cherries and the slowly being used up crystallized honey were the basis of this rich, chocolatey, chewy and crumbly square. There are a lot of ingredients to measure out, but once they are ready to go the whole thing comes together pretty quickly.
I made and baked the crust, and prepped all of the filling ingredients while it baked. Then the filling was made while the crust cooled, poured into the crust and the whole thing baked.
The crumbly shortbread crust is a good contrast to the creamy, rich, chewy filling. The squares do freeze well, and actually taste just as good if eaten frozen as they do when eaten at room temperature!
To make the chocolate shortbread crust, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl:
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces melted, cooled butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix until the wet and dry ingredients come together to form soft clumps of dough.
Press the dough into the bottom of an 8" X 8" pan that has been lined with foil, and lightly greased.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until the pastry is no longer wet, and is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven.
To make the filling, heat the following in a heavy bottomed pan until the butter has melted, and the honey and sugar have dissolved:
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (it cannot be stirred down).
Boil for 30 seconds.
Immediately remove from the heat and whisk in:
1/2 cup flour
Return to a low heat and cook, stirring for another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
2/3 cup roughly chopped dried sour cherries
4 ounces chopped dark chocolate
Scrape the filling onto the baked crust, spreading it evenly.
Bake at 350F until the centre of the filling is set and firm to the touch; the edges will bubble a little bit. The surface will be less shiny than before it was baked.
This should take about 22 - 25 minutes.
Allow the squares to cool completely before gently lifting the foil out of the pan, and peeling it away from the sides. Cut into squares, and serve at room temperature.
- What I love most about this square is how versatile both the crust and the filling are. One recipe can be changed around in so many ways to use up bits and pieces that are available to you...
- If you keep the crust chocolate consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper as well as cinnamon; finely ground instant coffee or espresso powder can be used as a flavour; Earl Grey tea is also an option.
- No cocoa? Omit it and use flour in place of the cocoa.
- Make the crust using flour, but no cocoa. In place of the cocoa use dried coconut.
- For the filling, the nuts can be changed by using a different nut to replace the pecans. You can also use a combination of different nuts...this is a great way to use up small amounts of two or three nuts. Some nuts that would work well in the square include almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamias, pistachios or peanuts.
- Try other dried fruits instead of cherries...cranberries, raisins, blueberries, figs.
- Use white or milk chocolate instead of dark.
- Add sea salt into the filling to achieve a salted chocolate square.
- Grated orange zest will brighten the filling, and works well with fruits such as cherries or cranberries.