Coffee-chocolate bars with mocha
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Chocolate and coffee…Any cookie featuring that pairing could be a real crowd-pleaser and these Coffee-Chocolate Bars are. Their appeal comes from two contrasting chocolate chips that are buried in coffee-flavored dough with a soft, brownie-like texture. The mocha glaze further promotes the theme while adding a marvelous richness and creaminess to the cookie’s overall taste.
This bar’s allure goes beyond the great match between its primary ingredients. It is also fast and easy to make and requires almost no kitchen equipment, not even an electric mixer. Everything goes into one bowl, then, after mixing, into the pan and the oven. Its accompanying glaze is also a one-bowl operation, demanding very little time or technical expertise.
If you want to streamline the process even further, you can forego the topping. The bars are still good without it, though not as luxurious or as visually appealing.
This cookie travels well; I’ve taken it to my colleagues at the office, on picnics and cross-country ski trips. Wrapped carefully, the bars stay moist and don’t crumble.
If properly covered, the bars will last about four days at cool room temperature. You may also freeze the cookies, unglazed, for about six weeks. If you freeze the glazed cookies, the glaze will discolor a bit though it will still taste fine.
(Make in a 9×9 inch baking pan)
2 cups of vanilla wafer crumbs (ground in a food processor or smashed until fine with a heavy utensil after being placed in a plastic bag)
1 tablespoon of instant coffee dissolved in 1 (one) tablespoon of hot water
14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk (one can)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1⁄3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1⁄3 cup of milk chocolate chips
1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
11⁄2 rounded teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in 2 (two tablespoons of hot water
1⁄4 teaspoon of vanilla
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of confectioner’s sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a 9×9 baking pan with Reynold’s Release non-stick aluminum foil or with regular aluminum foil. Let the foil extend beyond two sides of the pan to use as handles when removing the baked bars. If using regular foil, grease it well.
Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, the dissolved instant coffee, the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. The dough will be stiff. Stir in the semi-sweet and the milk chocolate chips and make sure they are distributed evenly throughout the dough. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and spread it so that it is level. I find it easiest to do this by wetting my hands or a spatula and gently pushing the dough until it is smooth and level.
Bake until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean. This takes about 25-30 minutes in my oven. Don’t overbake the pastry; you want the cookies to be soft and chewy. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a rack to cool.
When the pastry is cool, make the mocha glaze: Chop the unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and melt it, with the butter, in a microwave on low or in a small saucepan over low heat. Take care, chocolate burns very easily, so keep the heat low, remove the container from the heat before the chocolate is completely melted, and whisk or stir until it is fully melted and smooth. Whisk in the dissolved instant coffee and the vanilla. The mixture may look curdled at first, but whisk vigorously and it will smooth out. Add the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, until the glaze has a consistency that will drizzle well. Drizzle the glaze over the pastry in a pretty design. Let the mocha glaze harden. You may place the pan in the refrigerator to speed up this process.
Using the foil handles, remove the pastry from the pan and cut into rectangles (or any shape you prefer) with a thin, sharp knife.
This recipe was inspired by ones in “Brownies, Blondies and Bar Cookies and The Four-Sided Cookie.”
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.