Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Espresso Caramel Bars


Happy Valentine's Day!!!  Taking a day off from my buttermilk quest and getting everyone hyper with some highly caffeinated Espresso Caramel Bars!  I was watching Giada on Food Network one day and she was making these very rich, decadent bars.  I have a love/hate relationship with this woman (ok...maybe it's more of a love/envy relationship).  On one hand she is an excellent cook and has the greatest recipes; on the other hand she eats and eats and eats and still looks perfect and thin!  It is so not fair!  I try not to hold it against her, but it is not always easy.  ;)  

Where was I?  Oh yeah.... so, these bars have a graham cracker crust that is filled with loads of butter (Paula Deen would be proud)..... 



and a layer of gooey, delicious, homemade caramel.... 


then it is topped with a VERY rich espresso chocolate ganache!


Make sure you cut these into very small bars (I cut mine into 1" x 1") as they are extremely rich. Giada decorated her bars with smoked sea salt which is beautiful but not necessary.  I think they look great just as they are!   

Make this recipe to give away as Valentine's gifts to your friends or for a romantic dessert or hide them away and eat them all by yourself!  When you are done stuffing yourself with caramel yumminess, store the bars in the refrigerator!

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt" Charles M. Schulz

Espresso Caramel Bars adapted from Giada De Laurentis

Crust:
Vegetable cooking spray
12 whole (6 ounces) cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled or 2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment.  Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers and sugar. Process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture forms into clumps. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden. 

Caramel:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust. Cool for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Layer:
2 cups  bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon smoked sea salt, optional

Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the espresso powder. Remove the springform pan from the freezer. Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with smoked sea salt, if using. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm or stick in freezer until firm.   Cut into squares 1” x 1” and then return bars to refrigerator.

Recipe shared on:
Foodie Friends Friday

29 comments:

  1. These look absolutely delicious. I love espresso in chocolate. Hey, I wonder if there is still time to get them made for Valentine's Day? It's worth a try.
    Thanks for the FB friend add :)

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    1. Thanks Sandy! I hope you had a chance to make these or something else that is yummy for Valentine's Day!!

      Looking forward to sharing lots of recipes!!

      Becky

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  2. Wow, I love caramel in ANYTHING, and these look almost too good ;) Oooh, and who doesn't love a graham cracker crust!

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    1. Thank you, thank you!! I too am a huge caramel fan! You will have to try these, sooo yummy!

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  3. These bars are absolutely gorgeous! I bet a small bite would go a long way. Ah, and I am sure Giada works out about 5 hours a day to keep her figure, so don't be jealous. That's just too much work! :-)

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    1. Thanks Maggie! Feeling a little better about Giada! LOL

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  4. Oh I LOVE these! They sound amazing and decadent!

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    1. Thanks Lauren! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!! Thanks for stopping by!

      Becky

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  5. oh heavenly!! I love that you added the sea salt too...so fab.

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    1. Thanks Abby! Heavenly is a great way to describe these bars!! :)

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  6. Oh yum, these look to die for! Two of my favorite flavors combined :)

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    1. Thanks Kiri! Hope you enjoy the recipe! ;)

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  7. Hello Becky, I'm Jeff I live in San Ramon. My friend Roger...(Yes, the Roger you know).
    Met me for coffee one day. He brought some of your Espresso Caramel Bars. First of all, they were delicious.....All I wanted was more of them......

    The one thing I noticed though, when he took them out of the container, the bars had stuck together a bit....The caramel was starting to come out the sides of the bars.

    Is there any way, (That you know of) to make the caramel a bit more solid? So they retain their shape without being cold?

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    1. Hi Jeff! I'm glad you got to try my bars and liked them! John and Roger are often my guinea pigs for new recipes and I like that they pulled someone else into the circle!

      As for the caramel...I have only made this recipe the one time so I haven't had a chance to really play around with it. I do know that the refrigerator is the best way to keep their shape but I offer two other possible solutions for you to try.
      1. Do not top the squares with chocolate, but instead dip the entire square into chocolate, completely sealing the caramel in. (beware-will be very rich and may be too much chocolate for some)
      2. Try cooking the caramel longer, to just past the soft stage, and see if it hardens a bit more. (not sure what will happen but it's worth a try)

      I love gooey caramel and will continue to make them according to my recipe but I would love to know what you find with your experiments! Keep me posted!

      Becky

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  8. These sound fabulous! I'm making desserts for a bridal shower in April and the bride to be loves mocha flavors. These will please her for sure! Thanks so much for sharing~

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    1. Thanks Lizzy! I hope they turn out wonderful for your party! Thanks for joining my blog....I hope you enjoy my recipes!

      Becky

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  9. I saw these in my inbox on foodbuzz and had to check them out. These look so good. I'll have to make them in the near future.

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  10. God I would not be able to keep my hands off these amazing beauties :D
    Love them!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  11. Espresso and caramel? I am sold! Where do I sign up to have these sent to me.

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  12. Oh my, these look so good. Caramel, espresso, and chocolate- Yum!

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  13. I made these for a recent party and everyone went nuts for them! Yours look perfect :)

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  14. I don't even think these should be limited to just Valentine's Day =) They look perfect for any day of the year!

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  15. These sound amazing! I love the salted caramel taste so I think I might just have to add the salt to the top. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday!

    PS I'm a new follower! :) http://www.adornedwell.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Kelly and welcome! I still need to try them with salt on top. Next time!

      I'm going to head over to your blog and check it out now! :)

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  16. Oh my they look so delicious!
    Thank you for sharing at Foodie Friends Friday!

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