This recipe-posting is dedicated to one of my very sweet daughters, Miss All-Grown-Up, who happens to live a long way away. I miss you, Sweetheart, and wish I could make this for you today. We'd share a sweet cookie-bar and a hot coffee over a loooong conversation.
Today I'm making a Pillsbury recipe: Mocha-Walnut Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache. The bars have three distinct layers which are prepared and cooked separately, one on top of another. It is very easy to do and your children can jump in and help you. (Trust me, if they don't help you in the beginning while you're putting this together.....they WILL help you in the end by eating it! Maybe now's a great time to tell them the story of The Little Red Hen...) The recipe is designed to be quick and easy and does so by using refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Feel free to use your own sugar cookie dough recipe instead if you'd prefer.
2 1/2 cups of very finely chopped walnuts
6 T. sugar
6 T. melted butter
1 roll sugar cookie dough (or make a batch of sugar cookie dough from your personal favorite recipe!)
2 T. instant espresso coffee granules (the recipe called for 1T. but 2T. gives it more of the coffee flavor)
1 t. home-brewed vanilla (my own personal addition)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate baking chips
1/4 cup plus 2T. whipping cream
It's a great idea to get your supplies together. It makes the work go smoothly and you can live out your cooking show fantasies. (That'll be our little secret.)
Stir your walnuts, sugar and butter together in a bowl until completely mixed.
This is where I decided to add my homemade vanilla. (Now you need to know how to make your own delicious vanilla! We'll get to that soon. It's easy, only a bit time-consuming and you know it is homemade goodness.)
Press the mixture evenly on the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 pan.
(Here's where I'd like to tell you that I followed the directions exactly and wasn't as pleased at how they came out of the pan. I'd suggest spraying the pan before layering. It's what I plan to do next time.)
Bake for 8-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
While that is cooling, begin to prepare the cookie layer. In a large bowl, knead the cookie dough and espresso granules until blended.
Drop spoonfuls of dough evenly over the walnut crust. Gently press the dough together over the crust. Bake for 20 minutes. (The recipe said to cook for 20-25 minutes but I think 25 is a little long and makes the cookie too crunchy.) Let cool for 30 minutes.
Finally the ganache.....What a wonderful word. It rolls around your mouth much like the chocolate itself! And it isn't hard to make but very impressive.
I prefer to make my ganache in a double-broiler, which I also have to make. If you don't have one, make one like mine. I put a glass bowl over a small pot of water and let the water heat up and melt my chocolate chips. The other option is the microwave but I don't like microwaves so we don't happen to have one.
Add the chocolate chips and the whipping cream to your bowl and heat it slowly.
Your chips will begin to mix and the whipping cream will blend right in. I stir constantly because the transformation tends to happen quickly. Stir until the chips and cream are one happy family.
Spread the chocolate ganache over the bars.
Refrigerate for one hour. Cut the bars into 24 servings (6 rows by 4 rows) or smaller if you'd like dainty servings that don't seem to add as much cushion to your thighs. I'm just saying.....
They're delightful and delicious with a hot cup of coffee or an ice cold glass of milk. Divine.
ps. Licking fingers is allowed.
***Thank you to Jonathan Anderson for taking the pictures. Your work is always the best!