dark chocolate-cherry ganache bars
Pixelated Crumb is starting to look like an ode to my sister lately, and it’s got to stop before she starts letting it get to her head. But first we must address the matter of these dark chocolate-cherry ganache bars.Because Oh. My. Goodness. These treats are a chocolate lovers dream come true.
My sister sent me an article from the New York Times last week with a story about some dressed up chocolate shortbread, which is quite the understatement. Frankly the shortbread is just a vehicle (albeit a scrumptious one) to deliver a thick slab of decadent, sumptuous, chocolate ganache. A thin layer of gooey, tart cherry cuts through the richness and adds a subtle brightness out from under all the heavy chocolate. Even the ganache on top is dressed up – both with a healthy dash of kirsch and a dusting of fleur de sel.
The frightening thing is that I nearly didn’t make these at all. As good as they looked, it’s been a hectic few weeks and I’m trying (in vain, apparently) to cut down on sweets. I figured I would bookmark the recipe and get to it later. But my sister had planted the seed in my head and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. When Joseph and I went to the Chocolate Fest at our local Whole Foods Saturday morning and I was surrounded by all that chocolate, my resolutions crumbled. Next thing I knew, I had nearly a pound of bittersweet chocolate, cherry jam, and fleur de sel in my cart.
Despite the three separate components of these bars, they’re not difficult at all to make. All you have to do for one of the three layers is to spread some jam, so if you can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you can do that. And ganache is extremely easy to make – just melt chocolate in heavy cream! The best part (aside from all that chocolatey goodness) is that you can cut them into bars or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes (just be aware that they’re a little tricky to get out of the cutter) so you can make some sweet hearts for your sweetheart. What more could your Valentine ask for than these dreamy chocolate-cherry ganache bars?
Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars
Adapted from Melissa Clark on the New York Times
The cherry jam I chose had several whole cherries which I flattened against the shortbread. I used at least twice the 2 tablespoons that the original recipe calls for and was very happy with the outcome.
We didn't have kirsch and I didn't want to run out to get some, so I added a couple of teaspoons of cherry jam steeped in the brandy for about an hour and strained it before pouring it into the ganache. You can also use plain brandy, rum, grand marnier, or any other flavor you want.
- 150 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 90 grams (about 3/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
- 26 grams (about 1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons cherry jam
- 340 grams bittersweet chocolate, at least 62 percent, chopped finely (12 ounces)
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons kirsch, rum, brandy or other spirit
- 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and fine sea salt. Pulse in the butter and vanilla until the mixture just comes together into a smooth mass (it will be powdery at first, but I assure you, it will come together). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment or wax paper. Press the dough into the pan. Prick all over with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 days.
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the shortbread until firm to the touch and just beginning to pull away from the sides, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Brush jam over shortbread’s surface and let cool thoroughly.
- Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. If there are any chocolate pieces remaining, place over a double boiler and whisk constantly until smooth. Whisk in the kirsch. Spread over shortbread. Sprinkle on the fleur de sel. Cool to room temperature; cover and chill until firm. Slice and serve.