Sometimes MisanthropicHostess posts are meant to build to the big moment. I’ll show you some ingredients, a bit of batter, try to create a little mystery and whatnot. Other times, like with this post, there really is no other option than to hit you right in the pie hole with what could be yours if you decided to do a little baking of your own.
These are keepers. Definitely.
And, to think, they were a last minute add-on to a Saturday already queued-up with three other recipes. I felt the need to make something with chocolate and had bookmarked this recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours at some point along the way. Oh man, I wish I had made these sooner.
This is a triple-layer bar. The base is a bit surprising with a little cinnamon and ground espresso powder.
The first layer is finished with a few ounces of chopped chocolate. The recipe calls for a fine chop. I was feeling rebelious and went a little chunkier. I think I like my version better.
When faced with the necesity of spreading sticky dough in a thin even layer, I have found (through much trial and error) the off-set spatula to be superior in its distribution capabilities.
Once you have a nice, even layer, into the oven until golden brown.
While the dough is in the oven, it is time for a little destruction therapy. I am fairly sure you can buy Heath or Score bars already pulverized into bits. But, it’s way more fun to do it yourself. I gave some Heath bars a rough preliminary chop and then finished the job in the mini-prep (a food processor or meat tendorizer would also do the trick).
You’ll also want to chop some more chocolate. I had some milk chocolate left over from another recipe and so, used a combo of milk and bittersweet.
And here is the part where you do what I say, not what I do. After chopping my chocolate, I spaced-out a little and threw it into the same bowl as the chopped toffee. You don’t want to do that. I picked out most of the chocolate, but as you can see below, I didn’t get it all. The chopped chococlate gets sprinkled on the still-warm cookie and then back into the now-off oven for a little melty-melty action.
Out of the oven, the chocolate gets spread into a nice, even layer (those clumps are the toffee bits I couldn’t get out).
THEN the toffee bits are added. Let the whole mess cool until the chocolate is hardened.
Cut into bars, and you’ve got yourself a new form of currency. These would be fantastic served with ice cream or a cold glass of milk.
Beach Boys. No explanation.
Caramel Crunch Bars
for the base
- 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used a tsp from an Nespresso capsule…not instant, no big deal)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temp.
- 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 ounces bittersweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped (or maybe a rough chop)
For the topping
- 6 ounces bittersweet or milk chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 C Heath Toffee bits
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9X13 inch baking pan, line with parchment and butter.
- Whisk together the flour, espresso powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In a standing mixer or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the sugars and beat another 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and cream. Beat in vanilla.
- Turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients and pulse the mixer about 5 times or until flour begins to incorporate. Then, mix on low until dough just comes together. Fold-in the chocolate.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and using an off-set spatula, spread into a thin, even layer.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes. The cookie should look like it is trying to pull away from the pan. Turn off the oven.
- Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the top of the hot base and put pan back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft.
- Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate evenly over the base. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them in slightly with your fingertips.
- Cool until chocolate becomes firm. Cut as desired.