Cookies for an Afternoon Concert

Every year, my friend and pianist/artist Ellen Farren gives a recital at her apartment, a preparatory rehearsal for an annual performance she gives with New York Philharmonic violinist Fiona Simon.

It feels so special to be allowed into the private world of musicians, and to enjoy such amazing music in the comfort of a friend’s home. Fiona and Ellen played with untiring energy, tackling two lesser known pieces by Benjamin Britten and Dvorak, as well as a more familiar Schubert. When Fiona played a Bach violin solo, I felt transported back to the salons of Europe. The concert ended with an encore of Spanish music.

I wanted to do something to thank Ellen for the privilege of attending yesterday’s concert, so I brought some cookies. This is a variation on a raspberry cookie recipe from Irene, born out of necessity when I discovered at the last minute that I had no raspberry preserves but lucked upon a jar of fig jam in the fridge.

The combo of figs and chocolate was rich but not too sweet, and went well with the delicious array of cheeses, spreads and pates that Ellen served after the concert. I only wish I could have stayed a little longer to talk a bit more with everyone. And watch the Yankees -Red Sox Game, which Ellen made certain her husband turned back on as soon as the concert was over.

Wonderful music, good food, great wine, good conversation and the Yankees – Yep, I’d say that’s a really special New York afternoon.

Chocolate Fig Bars

¾ cup light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter in 8 pieces
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
¼ cup Fig jam
2 oz. Bittersweet chocolate in pieces
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup blanched whole almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Process the lemon zest with ¼ cup brown sugar with the metal blade of a food processor until the zest I as fine as the sugar, about 1 minute. Add the flour, butter, and vanilla and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.

Press into an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan and bake in the preheated oven until it begins to color, about 15 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and lower the temperature to 325 degrees.Let crust cool a few minutes to harden up a bit.

If the fig jam has large lumps of fig, pulse it a few times on the food processor. Then spread the jam on the cookie crust, leaving a ½ inch border on all sides.

Pulse the chocolate 4 times, then process until chopped finely, about 1 minute. Sprinkle over the jam.

Beat the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Reserve.

Chop the almonds finely with the remaining ½ cup brown sugar with the metal blade, about 15 seconds. Add the egg whites and pulse until just combined, about 3 times.

Spread on top of the chocolate layer and bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar, cut into squares and serve.

Note – For a thinner cookie, use a 9×12 inch glass pan.

2 Responses to Cookies for an Afternoon Concert

  1. Yummy! Thanks for sharing this recipe! My husband LOVES figs – and I might learn to like them if they are mixed with chocolate! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this recipe! It looks and sounds great!
    I especially loved your last line on your post. It really doesn’t get much better than “Wonderful music, good food, great wine, good conversation and….”(maybe a different team) ;o)

    Cindy H

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