Espresso Shortbread Brownie Bars

It is impossible to believe January is over and we are well into 2014. I have been cooking like crazy in preparation for next month. I will be working super long hours with only four days off. So I am stocking the freezer with lunches and dinners. Freezer recipes coming soon to the blog! I made these brownie bars on a whim. I was running out of time before a girl’s night dinner party. I was kind of skeptical while preparing them but they are amazing! I think all the dinner guests loved them as well. I would take their opinions with a grain of salt considering I took out a trash bag of 7 empty wine bottles the next morning.

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In other news we still have not bought any bread in 2014. I feel very accomplished considering it has been over a month of home bread baking. I have been perfecting the recipe and will post my current go-to white bread recipe soon. It really is an interesting chemistry experiment baking bread every week. Bubbly Kitchen is also very excited to announce that we are providing cupcakes and other desserts in Eastern North Carolina for weddings, showers, parties, and any other occasions. Please see the events page for further details.

Anyway, here are the delish espresso shortbread brownie bars. We drank red wine with these and it was a perfect compliment. This rich dessert could be complemented by a dry red or sparkling wine. It is very important to stock your wine fridge in a strategic way. You should have bottles specifically for week night dinners, special occasions, dinner parties, and more rowdy parties. Although it is kind of ordinary, I like to have Ménage à Trois Folie à Deux on hand for parties. It is such a drinkable wine that everyone enjoys. It is also inexpensive, which is great when your dinner guests carouse late into the night.

Espresso Shortbread Brownie Bars

Shortbread Crust
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp finely ground espresso beans
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Brownie Topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
14 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter with the flour, sugar, ground espresso and salt. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Press the crumbs into a 9×13 inch baking pan. Freeze for 10 minutes until form and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Whisk together the flour and cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Melt the butter with the chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the eggs. Add in the dry ingredients, stir until smooth.

Pour the brownie batter over the baked crust. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes. The brownie is done when it is dry to touch and lightly cracked around the edges. Let cool before cutting.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine.

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