Thursday, May 8, 2008

Incredible Frosted Mocha Bars

I have a habit of tweaking recipes; I rarely follow them exactly as written - with mixed results to be sure. The other night I had a complete disaster with an attempt at homemade chicken fingers - but that's another post.

This time I felt like a culinary genius! I followed a Junior League cookbook recipe for Zebra Bars, which called for orange flavoring, but I substituted espresso. The tricky part was that I didn't want to use espresso powder - we have an espresso machine - but I wasn't sure about proportions. I found a recipe for Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes at Baking Bites, used it as a guide, and eureka! The most amazing, delicious, addictive dessert - definitely in my Top Five - and I've made a lot of desserts. The bars were moist and tender, like a brownie, and the espresso added just the right bite. And the frosting! the frosting was what made these truly addictive.

What you see in the picture is the "trimmings"; I was taking these to an event so I trimmed them to all be the same size, and we gobbled up those pieces in no time.

The other amazing thing? I used a bar of unsweetened baking chocolate from Trader Joe's, which cost ninety-nine cents. I've written before about all the amazing chocolate available at chefshop and elsewhere, but I have to say that this bar was really, really good in this recipe.

One other note: the Zebra Bar frosting tasted very sweet straight from the bowl (now who would eat frosting straight from the bowl?) even after the addition of espresso, but it was the perfect match for the intensely-flavored bars.

Frosted Mocha Bars
This recipe is baked in a 9x13-inch pan. The bars are so rich that you could easily serve 18, maybe even 24, though your guests might beg for more! NOTE: the recipe requires one hour chilling time.

3/4 cup butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
1/3 cup brewed espresso (about 2 shots)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 shot brewed espresso
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat butter and chocolate, stirring constantly, until melted. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, espresso, and vanilla until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is very light and fluffy. Add chocolate mixture and blend well. Fold in flour and mix gently until thoroughly combined. Spread into a greased 9x13-inch pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Beat softened butter in a small bowl until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, brewed espresso and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over cooled bars.

Combine chocolate and butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle glaze over frosted bars. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm before cutting, about one hour.

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