Dark Chocolate and Cognac Ganache Bars with Fleur de Sel (gluten-free)
An amazing-looking recipe for Dark Chocolate Cherry Ganache Bars appeared with the article “Plain-Jane Cookie Dresses up for Valentine’s Day” in the February 3, 2012 New York Times Dining & Wine section. I determined to make a gluten-free version using whole cane sugar (in place of powdered sugar), coconut cream (for cream), and cognac (my sweetheart’s favorite). The bars were so perfectly decadent that I had to share the recipe – happy Valentine’s day!
1 ½ cups Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
¾ cup whole cane sugar
¼ cup non-alkalized cocoa powder (gluten-free)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
½ teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces dark chocolate (at least 62% cacao, gluten-free)
2/3 cup coconut cream (skimmed from the top of whole coconut milk see (cooks note))
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy
3 tablespoons cherry jam or your favorite fruit jam
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or flake salt, for finishing
To make the shortbread:
Adjust the rack to the center of the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Assemble the bowl of a food processor and fit it with the metal blade. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, chia seeds, and unrefined sea salt. Pulse until the mixture becomes uniform, about one minute. Cut the butter into one-inch squares. Add it to the flour mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Pulse until a sticky dough forms, about two minutes. Press the dough into an even layer in the bottom of the buttered pan. Bake until browned at the edges and bubbling throughout, about 35-40 minutes. Allow the shortbread to cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Move to the refrigerator until cool throughout, about one hour.
To make the ganache:
Use a chef’s knife or the food processor fitted with the metal blade to chop the chocolate until it is mostly fine crumbles. Place it in a medium mixing bowl. In a small saucepan bring the coconut cream to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Wait until the chocolate begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the cognac. Whisk until the liquor is fully incorporated, less than one minute.(If the ganache separates, whisk in one additional tablespoon of coconut cream.)
To assemble the bars:
Use a rubber spatula to spread a thin layer of jam over the top of the cold shortbread. Then spread with the ganache. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill until set, about one hour. Slice into sixteen equal portions. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To separate coconut cream from coconut milk let the milk sit undisturbed for several hours. Skim the thick liquid that collects in the top of the can of coconut milk.