Yield: 25-30 bars
“Back to Baking”, pp. 68
As is often the case, lately I have been craving chocolate. Fortunately, I can always count on Anna to have a wonderful chocolate-containing recipe in her cookbook. This time I opted for d’Artagnan bars, a dessert with which I was not familiar with but later learned is similar in taste to the chocolate bar 3 musketeers. Like the peanut butter nanaimo bars, these chocolate bars are composed of three layers: the chocolate cookie crumb base, the fluffy chocolatey filling and the top chocolate glaze. So much chocolate!
- 1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for filling:
- 4 oz. (125 g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup white corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- candy thermometer
Ingredients for topping:
- 6 oz. (170 g) milk chocolate, roughly chopped
I seem to have lost my mojo these days, for this is another recipe with which I had difficulty. Firstly, I realized after the fact that the crust was dry and crumbly, most likely because my kitchen is very humid and the oven may have been hotter than expected. I solved this problem by brushing a bit of butter on the surface of the base. My other problem was the filling, which in the end was not at all fluffy and delectable-looking. I seem to not have grasped the concept of soft vs. stiff peaks with egg whites. Whenever egg whites are involved, I usually do not obtain the right texture. I think my mistake this time was that I probably overbeat the egg whites.
Nonetheless, although the bars I made did not look particularly appetizing, they actually tasted very good. The chocolate flavour is there in all the layers and the bars are both sweet and rich. Delicious. This is a perfect example of how to not judge a book by its cover – or in this case, a dessert by its appearance. Although they do not look scrumptious, these d’Artagnan bars are a treat!
Ingredients for base:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line it with parchment paper, making sure that it goes up the sides of the pan.
- To prepare the base, whisk together the cookie crumbs, icing sugar, cocoa powder and flour.
- Add the melted butter and combine with a spatula until the cookie crumb mixture has a wet texture.
- Press down this mixture into the prepared pan, making sure to even it out with a spatula, and bake for 10 minutes. Cool the crust in the fridge while making the filling.
- For the filling, melt the chocolate in a large glass or metal bowl over a bowl of simmering water. Set aside.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until they begin to hold a soft peak. Set aside.
- Pour the water into a medium saucepot, then add the sugar and corn syrup. Set the candy thermometer on the inside of the saucepot, making sure that the bulb does not touch the bottom of the pot. Without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil over high heat while brushing the sides of the pot with water until the sugar reaches a temperature of 255°F (124°C).
- Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully pour it into the whipped egg white mixture while beating at medium-high speed. Continue whipping until the mixture cools to almost room temperature, approximately 7 minutes.
- Beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Quickly spread this over the cooled crust. Chill for an hour in the fridge.
- To prepare the topping, melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (alternatively, you can melt it in the microwave at 30-second intervals). Pour the fluid chocolate over the filling, tilting the pan to make sure that the chocolate covers the whole surface. Chill to set for about 3 hours.
- Slice in bars and enjoy!
Notes from Anna:
- The bars are best cut when chilled, but can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Hi Val – its impressive to read your notes, to appreciate how much you are learning. Just a few short months ago, I doubt you would have known about the impact of under whipped or over whipped egg whites. When I am recipe developing, it’s rare that something comes out on the first try – it may taste OK, but likely looks a mess. Part of baking mastery is practice and repetition, and although I know you have to get through many more recipes for the first time, you’ll find that once you go back and revisit recipes, your expertise will come through! I like to compare baking to golf – the first time you try golfing, you nev do well, but with repetition the technique becomes second nature!
Thank you for the kind words Anna! I am indeed finding that I am learning a tremendous amount of techniques and ways to make my baking better, thanks to you! As you said, although I have many more recipes to try, I want to redo the desserts with which I was not satisfied, to apply techniques I acquired from learning from my mistakes!