Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crack-a-chino Bars

I just found the blog Vanilla Sugar a few weeks ago. I was going through her archived posts and came across these espresso bars. I knew they had to be made immediately, and as luck would have it, I was going to visit my mother-in-law and promised to bring along some cookies. Bars are really just square cookies you portion out after baking. Right?

Hot damn these bars are good. I have dubbed them Crack-a-chino bars. They are my Kryptonite. I cannot eat just one. I made myself sick on these more than once. You'd think I'd learn. No. These bars suck out all my willpower. It's a good thing I left most of them with my mother-in-law. If left to my own devices, I'd render myself unconscious in a sugar coma, eating the entire pan in one sitting.

I made one tiny change to the recipe posted on the Vanilla Sugar blog. I used mini chocolate chips instead of regular sized chips. The author made a comment that next time she made the bars she'd use shaved chocolate instead of regular sized chips. Well, since I am lazy, shaving chocolate is too labor intensive. Mini chips seemed like the perfect solution, and they were.

The bars are good warm and cooled. The coffee flavor develops the longer they sit. Because of this, the bars are even better the next day. The trick is getting them to last that long. My mother-in-law thought these bars would be awesome crumbled over ice cream. I'm too much of a purist. I'd rather eat the whole pan all on it's own. Save that ice cream for later when I'm out of delicious bars.

Make these devils if you dare. You'll be sorry if you do and sorry if you don't!

Espresso Bars from Vanilla Sugar
To get really flat bars, I find it works best to smooth them over with an offset spatula, using gentle pressure, just after they come out of the oven and before you apply the glaze.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tbsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp. milk
1-3 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a 10×15" jelly roll pan with baking parchment or grease lightly. Cream butter, brown sugar, instant coffee, and vanilla. Blend in flour, baking powder, and salt. Last, stir in the chocolate chips by hand. The mix will be very crumbly, with barely enough dough to hold together the chocolate chips.

Use fingers, palms, and heels of your hands to press dough evenly into pan. If necessary, cover dough with wax or parchment paper and use a small rolling pin to flatten lumps. Bake 5 min, rotate the pan, and bake 5-10 min more or until the edges are just starting to brown (watch carefully). Cool in the pan 5 minutes before spreading with glaze.

Put all the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan on medium heat. Don’t leave this stuff! Find a whisk and stir until smooth and barely bubbly. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the bars and smooth out to the edges and corners with a rubber spatula. Cool until the pan is just warm to the touch and cut into bars with a sharp knife.

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