What is it about dark chocolate and espresso that is so magical when the two are paired? And why do I find myself craving chocolate more and more, the older I get? I have been craving chocolate espresso desserts recently. Since I haven’t been feeling well, I thought I could get away with buying some coffee flavored ice cream with dark chocolate chunks (specifically, Starbucks Java Frappuccino ice cream). It helped a little, but didn’t satiate my craving. Finally, I broke down and decided to make a simple dessert. While debating what kind of tasty treat to make, I remembered these bars. They are one of Mr. Surly’s favorite chocolate desserts. He’s not opposed to chocolate, but he’s not as into it as I am. “Perfect,” I thought, “I will make something Mr. Surly really likes, then I won’t be stuck eating the majority of the batch.” I’m pleased to say it worked--within days I watched, delighted, as these bars quickly disappeared. And I’m happy to report that I was not the one who ate more than half the batch.
These bars are dark, dense, and delicious, and the next day become even more fudgy. I cut mine into ~2 inch squares, which yields 16 bite-sized servings. Feel free to make your slices bigger. I love these plain, but they would be incredible with a small scoop of ice cream. Don’t feel guilty if you eat more than one at a time, I know I don’t.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Bars
Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how you cut them
For the bars:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)
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. bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
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
8-16 chocolate-covered espresso beans (optional) (I love the Trader Joe’s Dark chocolate ones)
Preheat an oven to 350F. 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.
Combine the butter and chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 sec intervals until melted, stirring well between each interval.
In a medium 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, smoothing out the top. 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 microwave safe bowl combine the glaze ingredients. Microwave in 30 sec intervals until chocolate is melted, stirring well between each interval. Let cool to room temperature.
Using a small offset spatula, spread the cooled glaze over the bars in a thin layer. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Cut into bars or squares. Top each bar with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Store in airtight container.
Source: slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma