The second of two desserts I made yesterday from the May edition of Food and Wine magazine. If you missed the first treat, do be sure to check out the Pecan Shortbread with Chocolate Drizzle if you want to know why two…in one day! This was my first choice and also that of most of the good folks on Twitter who responded to my query about what to make. In a funny way, I was happy to not have enough eggs, for if I had just made this I would not have done the other and if I hadn’t already started this when I did the other …well, you get my drift – it was simply meant to be that I try both of these wonderful desserts.
That I love shortbread is a good thing! This bar might easily be listed in Webster’s under the definition of Decadent. I mean, it has a buttery shortbread cookie crust made with espresso beans ground into it – divine itself, and then as if that weren’t enough it’s topped with a rich brownie layer; a brownie layer that is so reminiscent of the recipe I got from my friend Chris Toler almost 30 years ago that I was tempted to use hers; we don’t call it brownies, we call it Baked Fudge!
In the end I decided to go with the recipe as given and it’s superb. Given that I’m in Colorado and everything here is dry, not just the air, but flour too, I always bake recipes a bit less than directions call for and I’m glad I did; any more time and the layers might have been overdone so test early; it should have a cookie like result but the brownie layer still needs to have a moist texture.
Espresso-Shortbread Brownie Bars
For the Shortbread Crust
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans (I actually used Espresso Powder)
- /2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Brownie Topping
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
To Make the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- In a food processor, combine the butter with the flour, sugar, ground espresso and salt; pulse until coarse crumbs form.
- Press the crumbs into a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan to form a crust; prick all over with a fork. Freeze for 5 minutes, until firm.
- Bake in the lower third of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and cooked through. Note: This is a very brown crust as a result of the espresso beans
To Make the Browning Topping:
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa, salt and baking powder.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over low heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the brownie batter is smooth.
- Pour the brownie batter over the shortbread crust
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownie top is dry and lightly cracked around the edges; the center will still be a bit soft. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Wine Recommendation Too often, people gorge themselves on cheese, appetizers, dinner and table wines, leaving little to no room for dessert. Well, this Espresso-Shortbread Brownie Bar presents an excuse to save room for a sweet wine pairing worthy of saving room for! Vin Doux Naturel is a fortified wine made in the southwest of France which has notes of coffee and chocolate, making it the perfect wine to serve alongside this marriage of espresso and cocoa. Learn more about Vin Doux Naturel.