Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: melt-in-your-mouth cookies

by Alice Medrich

Apricot Lemon Bars with Hazelnut Crust

RATING: 4 out of 5 (lovely twist on the standard lemon bar)

THE TEST: I was excited to try this recipe as Alice Medrich is renowned for her lemon bars, famous for their tender crunchy crust and tangy citrus filling. In fact, she includes three lemon bar varieties in the book – now that’s the type of enthusiasm I can get behind!

I found the recipe very easy and quick to prepare, the filling coming together nicely while the crust baked. Each step is described clearly and includes great tips, such as advice for toasting and de-skinning hazelnuts.

THE RESULTS: As Mr. Spock can attest, I am a bit of a citrus fanatic. These bars hit the spot and satisfied my craving! The amount of citrus was perfect and I wouldn’t add (or omit) a single drop over what was specified in the recipe. I enjoyed the unique flavour twist on this classic bar, finding the subtle sweetness of the apricot preserves to compliment the tanginess of the lemon. The added crunch of the hazelnuts were lovely with the crunchy, flaky, buttery crust. Yum…

I will definitely be trying the other lemon bar recipes, including her classic adaptation. As much as I enjoyed this updated twist, classics stick around for a reason. Because they’re so damn good.

My Chocolate Chip Cookies

RATING: 5 out of 5 (perfect!)

THE TEST: One of my new year’s resolutions from last year was to find a recipe for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. So when I saw this book included Alice’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe, I jumped at the chance to do some recon.

Unlike any other recipe I’ve tried, Alice swears the great success of her version is a result of melting the butter, resting the dough overnight, and cooking at the correct temperature for the perfect amount of time (remembering to rotate your cookie sheets halfway through baking).

While the recipe itself was simple to prepare, it was incredibly difficult to wait until the next day to throw them in the oven.

THE RESULTS: So do all of the extra details make a difference? I can’t provide scientific evidence to prove or disprove the validity of the specific techniques called for in this recipe, but what I can tell you is that these are hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. It provided everything we were looking for in this American classic; buttery, crisp exterior with rich and chewy center, the perfect amount of chocolate and sweetness.

And they only get better the longer you let them sit…

Maya’s No-No-Nanaimo Bars

RATING: 5 out of 5 (tasty update on a Canadian classic)

THE TEST: Mr. Spock and I have often thought that traditional Nanaimo bars desperately needed a makeover. While we both enjoy the treat that is native to our home province of British Columbia, after a few bites our sugar quota is breached and we call it quits.

The recipe itself is straightforward but there are a few steps involved in making the three layers. In the end I made the first two layers and left them to chill overnight in the fridge.

NOTE: apparently my four-year old daughter couldn’t resist the call of the Nanaimo bar. In fact, she purposely woke up early, snuck into the fridge and devoured the first two layers. This happened twice! Luckily third time was a charm and the rest of us eventually got a taste.

THE RESULTS: Alice Medrich describes this recipe as a “less sweet, more grown-up” version that modernizes the Nanaimo bar. I’d have to agree! With the coconut pecan crust, vanilla cream cheese filling and dark chocolate ganache topping, I say move over Stacy and Clinton…there’s a new makeover champ in town.

Decadent, rich, velvety and utterly delicious, these bars were not overly sweet or juvenile in any way. Imagine sinking your teeth into a thick layer of dark ganache, followed by a slightly tangy cream cheese layer that melts in your mouth, and ends with chewy chocolately goodness flecked with coconut. Now image yourself clicking on the recipes link in your favourite food blog (ahem, CookThatBook) and heading into your kitchen to whip up a batch. Now go do it for real – you won’t be sorry!

For a copy of the recipe for Maya’s No-No-Nanaimo Bars, please click HERE