Coffee Cream Bars
Ok. So I cheated on cookie week. These aren’t technically cookies. But they are dessert that you eat with your hands and they also happen to be really good.
So I hope that you’ll forgive me that I abandoned my own cookie week on Day 3 to bring you a bar instead of a cookie.
These bars are filled with a creamy coffee mixture that is pretty awesome for anytime you need a little pick-me-up.
Coffee Cream Bars
Yield: 16 bars.
1 Cup graham crackers, crushed
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Teaspoon gelatin
2/3 Cup strong coffee
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 Cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1) Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil, laying a sheet in both directions.
2) Combine crumbled crackers, butter, and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Pack mixture into baking pan and use a flat instrument (measuring cup) to press the crust down until it's flat.
3) Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes and then cool.
4) For filling, add room temp coffee and sugar to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let sit for 5 minutes.
5) Add other filling ingredients and mix either with a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment until the filling is smooth.
6) Pour filling into graham cracker crust.
7) Bake in a hot water bath for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.
8) Cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then cover and chill in fridge for an hour.
9) For topping, melt chocolate and butter together over a double boiler or in the microwave if you're careful. Let chocolate cool a bit and then pour over cream bars and spread out evenly.
10) Chill until chocolate hardens, 30 minutes to an hour.
11) Lift up foil to remove bars. The foil should peel right off.
12) Slice with a hot knife and wipe the knife clean between each slice if you're concerned with having really clean slices.
13) Serve in cupcake cups.
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.
The First Layer
These bars have three basic layers to them. The most intimidating layer is probably the middle one, but let’s start at the beginning.
These lovely bars sit on a graham cracker crust which, if you’ve never made before, it’s dumb simple to do.
Start with these three simple ingredients.
Then line an 8 inch baking dish with foil. It’s best to lay overlapping sheets of foil going in opposite directions. Make sure you get the foil pressed nicely against the dish walls.
In a small bowl, combine the crumbled graham crackers with the sugar and melted butter.
Next, pour down all your graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan and use a flat surface like a measuring cup to pack in the crust really well.
Bake the crust at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.
The crust should end up lightly browned around the edges. Let this cool before you do anything with it.
The Second Layer
This is the layer that’s worrisome. It seems like there’s a lot that could go wrong, but have no fear, the custard/gelatin mixture is really sturdy and will hold up just fine.
You just need a few ingredients for this layer, the most important of which is very strong coffee. Note that if you’re using gelatin, then these guys become a non-vegetarian deal. It might be possible to make a custard that’s sturdy enough without the gelatin, but it would be tricky I think.
Add your coffee (room temp) and sugar into a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let the gelatin dissolve for 5 minutes. Mix together with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You could also just use a whisk, but you might be in for a workout.
Next, whisk in the cream cheese and eggs together and add a pinch of salt. Mix this until the mixture is really creamy and there are no lumps. This might take a few minutes but it should eventually smooth out.
Then just pour the mixture into your graham cracker crust!
Getting the bars ready for step 3 requires a bit of time. Here’s the procedure I used to make sure the coffee/cream layer is set nicely.
1) Bake the dish in a water bath for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Your 8 inch baking dish should fit perfectly into a 9×13 inch dish so just add that setup to your oven and then pour boiling water into the larger pan until it comes halfway up the side of the smaller pan.
2) Remove the dish and let it cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
3) Then cover it and chill it in the fridge for an hour.
If you’re keeping track, that’s about 4 hours of stuff. It’s pretty important though if you want your bars to be set nicely. So watch a movie or something while you wait for these guys to set up.
Once the center layer is chilled and set, you can prep the top layer of chocolate.
The chocolate layer is really easy to make. Just add chocolate and butter to a double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan with some boiling water in it) and whisk until chocolate is melted.
Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes just so it isn’t too hot and then pour it onto your bars!
Spread this out and let it chill thoroughly for another 30 minutes to an hour so the chocolate and set up firmly as well.
Slicing the bars
I got a bit sloppy with my slicing, but if you use a sharp hot knife (heat it under hot water and then dry it off), it should slice right through the bars. Be sure to take your bars out of the pan and foil before slicing them!
Be sure to wipe off the knife after every slice. I did a four by four slicing pattern which yields 16 good sized bars.
If you’re traveling with these bars, it helps to have some cupcake tins to keep them in because they are kind of messy.
Even though the filling looks light, it actually ended up having a pretty rich coffee flavor. There’s not a lot of other flavors going on so you can really taste the coffee.
Sure, these things do take some time, but they are a pretty unique treat I think. If you’re baking cookies or something on a weekend, you could make these while you work on other stuff.
Sorry for cheating. I’ll be back tomorrow with an actual cookie!