Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Bars

Not too long ago, I wrote about my break up with coffee. We were done; it wanted nothing to do with me. Well, forget that, because it came crawling back after I made these bars, and we're happily back together, thankyouverymuch. 
If you know me at all, you know I suck at cooking. Jar sauce, meet noodles: my idea of cooking. The boy and I maintain healthy diets, and eat well, but food is not complicated around here. Recently my boyfriend (equally lazy when it comes to cooking) and I have taken to attempting to cook and it's... not going so bad. The food doesn't burn! I don't get scared or sick! I get to be mildly bossy and domineering when following recipes! (Actually, that last point is why I so much prefer baking. You just follow a recipe. There is much less guesswork than cooking. And I know which ingredients go well together-- all the fatty, sugary ones).

These bars were our dessert the other weekend, after we poured through a few baking books and couldn't get this recipe out of our heads. Boyfriend was surprised I had all the ingredients on hand. As if some people don't have within three feet of them every ingredient to make any dessert at any given point? Strange.

But anyway, the bars definitely continue my obsession with all Williams Sonoma's recipes. They are incredible. Fudgier than fudge. Chewy, yet soft and melty in your mouth. And there's a layer of icing on top that beautifully blends into the bar so well you can barely differentiate between the two.

Plus they're totally a legit substitute for your morning coffee.

Chocolate Espresso Bars
from Williams Sonoma

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process
 cocoa powder
3 Tbs. instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 eggs
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch of salt
16 chocolate-covered espresso beans (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl; set aside.

In a small, heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until blended. Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture until blended. Stir in the vanilla, then add the flour mixture and stir until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is springy to the touch, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream and espresso powder and heat, stirring, just until the powder is dissolved and bubbles start to appear around the pan edges. Add the chocolate and salt, remove from the heat and stir just until the chocolate is melted. Let cool to room temperature.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the cooled glaze over the cookie in a thin layer. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Cut into 1 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch bars or 2-inch squares. Top each bar with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Makes 16 bars.


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