Here are the recipes I promised for two of the desserts served at our Fête de la Lumière: chocolate crackles and nut bars.Chocolate Crackles
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (not available here; I used a 200 g bar of chocolat patissier–baking chocolate)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil (colza, corn, etc.–something without a strong flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (about half a cup but have more on hand in case you need it)
granulated sugar (same as with the powdered sugar)
Melt the chocolate (I do it in the microwave–just be careful not to overheat it). Stir in the brown sugar and oil, then add the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate and mix well.
Refrigerate at least an hour but you can go longer, like overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 F/ 160 C (the lower temp keeps them from getting too hard).
Put some powdered sugar in a shallow dish; put granulated sugar in another shallow dish.Use a spoon to scoop out a little dough more or less in ball shape. Roll it through the granulated sugar first, then the powdered sugar. This makes the crackles more pronounced and prettier. The less you handle the dough, the less mess on your hands. The balls don’t have to be perfectly round.
Place the balls on a cookie sheet that’s lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, leaving room for them to spread. Bake for about 10 minutes.
They freeze very well and defrost to nice and chewy.Nut Bars
This recipe is from the Silver Palate cookbook, one of my favorites. It’s called Pecan Squares, but just try finding pecans in Carcassonne. Walnuts work well, too.
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks/225 g)
Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease a 9×12-inch sheet pan (or you can line it with parchment paper).
Sift the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter. It will be shaggy but don’t worry. Press it into the pan and back for 20 minutes. (Keep an eye on it, because you don’t want it to brown too much.)
While it’s baking, make the topping:
2/3 cup (150 g) unsweetened butter, melted
1/2 cup (120 ml) honey
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3.5 cups (about 400 g) coarsely chopped nuts
Mix the butter, honey cream and brown sugar together. Stir in the nuts. Spread over the crust.
Bake again for another 25 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares. They should keep for up to a week (though they are likely to be eaten long before!).