Okay, I could have chosen a much more inappropriate version for this post title but can we talk about the mispronunciation/misspelling of the word, espresso, for a hot minute? This is not the expressway. This is not the express lane at Walmart. This is not Madonna’s, “Express Yourself.” This is coffee. This is espresso, not expresso. I have a friend who cringes every time she hears this, among other grammatical sins. Typically sipped and enjoyed at Starbucks and preferably other local cafes, those who need it for culinary purposes often use this:
This is the only time I use instant coffee. It’s perfectly acceptable for baking and will last you for years. So now that I’ve gone off about the proper spelling and pronunciation of espresso, let’s get back to baking, shall we?
A couple of weeks ago I got blinded by some chocolate packaging in the baking aisle at Wegmans. I had heard of Guittard but could not find any locally (I generally play with Scharffen Berger bittersweet). So this made its way into my cart:
I was attending a Super Bowl party last night (much like the rest of the nation) and decided brownies would be a fun addition. I generally like my chocolate snacks dark, rich, and slightly bitter. Yeah, you can interpret that sentence any way you like. However, since my friend has three children I figured I should lighten up a bit and make my dessert a little more family friendly. Inspired by memories of eating coffee ice cream with crunchy Heath bar topping as a kid (I swear that’s how I learned to like coffee), I came up with this idea. I even made them easier to say. No “espresso” in the recipe title below, especially (yes, it’s ‘especially’ and not ‘expecially’) since it only accounts for a small portion of the recipe.
Lady Sensory’s Coffee Toffee Brownies
Adapted from this recipe on CHOW for the chocolate purists (weirdos like me). I beefed up the espresso a bit and added a few extras.
6 oz package of Guittard 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or any brand bittersweet – 60-70% cacao preferred)
1 cup of Heath (or any milk chocolate covered toffee) bars, coarsely chopped
1 stick of unsalted butter, plus an extra tbsp for greasing the pan
2 eggs, beaten, and at room temperature
1 cup vanilla sugar (see how to make this and your own extract here)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brewed espresso (I used instant but if you have an espresso maker, go ahead and use it!)
1 cup flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp finely ground sea salt
1/4 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 ” square pan with butter and line bottom with a greased square of parchment paper (trust me – these get sticky and this will make your life so much easier). In a large saucepan, melt the stick of butter over low heat and combine the dark chocolate chunks until completely melted and smooth. Handy tip: I used my 4.5 qt Le Creuset which doubled as the mixing bowl. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Once the chocolate/butter mixture is at room temperature whisk in the vanilla sugar, extract and coffee, followed by the beaten eggs. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, until combined. Add half of the chopped Heath bar chunks and spread into the pan in an even layer. Top with remaining Heath bar chunks. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan once. Start checking at 25 minutes. My brownies were done right around the 30 minute mark (an inserted toothpick came out clean). Insert a spatula around the edge of the pan to release some of the toffee sticking to the edges while still warm. Allow to cool for at least an hour, if not more. When cooled, remove from the pan and cut into 16 squares. They look a little strange at first because the toffee melts in the oven. When cooled, the topping becomes a delicious, slightly crunchy texture that will please even the most discerning palates. Dare I say they’re almost as good as that random Prince appearance on New Girl?