I made these last year and loved them so much I've been trying to think of alternate versions/flavors ever since. Then the BAKED boys posted something on Facebook about"Coffee Crisp Bars" at their shop one day, no recipe, just the name, but it got my wheels turning. Figured I could do the same thing except with my own Coffee Buttercream and add "crisp" to the ganache with Rice Krispies (can I use a brand name?! guess we'll see!)
They're really lovely and delicious. With lots of varied textures--chewy brownie, smooth buttercream, crispy ganache. And WOW are they rich. They were for me, anyway. My kids are usually really sensitive to rich desserts, but they loved these. I could only get through 1/2 of a small square in one sitting. Which, you know, is ODD for me. My kids? Ate the whole thing without taking a breath. Pretty much.
Here's the recipe:
Coffee Crisp Bars *click here for printable version*
concept and brownie base from “Grasshopper Bars” in BAKED Explorations, crispy glaze adapted from same recipe
Makes 12 large or 24 small bars
For the Brownie Base:
¾ c. flour
½ tsp salt
1 T dark unsweetened cocoa powder
5 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
½ c. (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
¾ c. sugar
¼ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Coffee Filling:
2 T instant espresso powder
1 c. heavy cream, plus more
1 c. granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, just slightly cooler than room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Crispy Glaze:
6 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
1 tsp light corn syrup
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
½ c. Rice Krispies cereal
Make brownie base:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.
Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.
Add three eggs to the chocolate/ butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the coffee filling.
Make coffee filling:
Heat ¾ c. heavy cream in a microwave for 1 minute, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop until just simmering. Stir in espresso powder and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Powder should dissolve. Strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter just to make sure no grit is left in the infused cream. Add enough cream to make a total of 1 c.
Whisk together 1 c. granulated sugar and 2 T cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk in coffee-infused cream and place saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, and mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken.
Pour sugar mixture into the bowl of a mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix at medium speed until mixture is cool.
Cut 1 c. unsalted butter into small pieces. Switch mixer to paddle attachment. With mixer at medium speed, gradually add a few pieces of butter at a time. Mix until it is thoroughly incorporated. Switch speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the chocolate glaze:
In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat. Stir in the Rice Krispies.
Pour the mixture over the chilled coffee layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hours, or until the glaze hardens.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
TGIP Rating--Coffee Crisp Bars--KEEPER. I think next time I'm going to try with a Caramel Buttercream. Doesn't that sound yummy?!
Next up: King Cake. I've never been to New Orleans. But I have input from trusted sources, and this is the recipe I'm going with. Mardi Gras is the 12th!