Not sure if any of you can tell, but I’ve been a bit down with the pistachio bug lately. It’s almost unhealthy. A few mornings ago, I was relishing one of my favourite, unbeatable toast combinations: homemade pistachio butter, honey and coarse sea salt. Curiosity arose from this delicious ritual, and I researched recipes with the dominant theme of pistachio (and other random facts, such as how these guys have a 14% saturated fat content, and a chemical named aflatoxin may be found in poorly harvested kernels. Did you know that the pistachio tree can survive in 50C weather? Anyways). I decided, the toast fiend that I am, to kick the current bar/brownie game up a notch.
Anything, my friend, can be turned into bars.
I can see how this recipe may come across as inaccessible. It’s true, the main component of these bars is pistachio butter, but I insist that you try making the stuff at home. It’s like bread. Make a loaf at home and you’ll never turn back to the packaged stuff. I’m lucky enough to have a supply of this divine concoction at home, since my mum occasionally makes a batch, and what you essentially do goes as follows: you roast a large batch of pistachios (around 200g is enough for this recipe, and you will have quite a bit leftover, which is perfect!), skin the babies, and grind for a good while in a food processor or other professional grinding device (cough a blender cough) with sugar and salt to taste. If any of you have experience making any sort of nut butter, then you know that the procedure is simple and completely worth it. This nut butter will make all your mornings golden and glimmering. It makes Skippy cower in fear.
The little air bubbles you see are thanks to a bout of carelessness; I recommend dropping the pan containing the batter before actually baking it, in order to rid your batter of excess air bubbles. Yes, mistakes are abound in this one woman kitchen.
This is a pistachio fudge bar. ‘Fudge’ because of its texture and prominent pistachio flavour. Dense, squidgy, with a slight chew around the edges, the pistachio offering an earthy, naturally sweet touch. I topped it with a simple dark chocolate drizzle to highlight these notes and add a chimerical flair to the otherwise plain pistachio base.
Pistachio Fudge Bars (makes 16 in an 8×8-inch pan)
70g all-purpose flour
113g (half a cup, or one stick) melted, unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
120g (around half a cup) pistachio butter
190g light brown sugar
half a teaspoon of salt
Preheat your oven to 177C (350F). Grease and line an 8×8-inch baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl and with a wooden spoon, mix together the pistachio butter and sugar. The mix should look clumpy, but will come together after a few seconds of mixing (see above). Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. The mix should be sticky and easily drop off your spoon. Add your flour and salt, and mix until combined. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Pour the sticky gloop into your greased and lined pan, and drop the pan onto your counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Pop it into the oven for 18-20 minutes. My batch was done after 18, so check it at this point. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle should come out dry, but the presence of little clingy crumbs at the tip are fine.
Let the pan cool on a cooling rack. Meanwhile, melt 70g of milk/dark chocolate in the microwave, using 20 seconds bursts and mixing in between, to prevent the chocolate burning and causing an unnecessary temper explosion in the kitchen. Put the melted chocolate into a small ziploc bag. Once the bars are cool, snip the tip off one of the two corners of the ziploc bag and drizzle the chocolate all over the cooled bars. Slice the batch into 16 equal pieces. These bars can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store remaining in the fridge and reheat whenever necessary, or store them in the fridge after the bars have cooled, if you wish.