Since I played around with the original recipe by adding various ingredients, including a sauce, I tried to come up with a compact, Mini Cooper name for these bars that was also inclusive of all the components.
I couldn't think of anything. Chewy brown butter, brown sugar, espresso, snickerdoodle, butterscotch sauce bars is too long winded. And it sounds like something out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder style. (I was not a fan of the umpa lumpas.) So I went with the most random title I could think of.
The title offers no clue as to what these bars are. If you decide to serve them at a party, instead of pouring more wine into barley-touched glasses or rambling on about how infuriating Lost is this season, or how you stepped barefoot into your cat's hairball when you got out of bed that morning and had to bunny hop on one leg to the bathroom, you can break awkward silences and tensions over a fresh break-up by explaining to people what the bars are made of and drenched with. Or, if you're feeling anti-social because you felt obligated to have a party and obligations automatically sap out any desire to do anything, write out the ingredients on a small note card and place it next to the bars. Be sure that the card is pretty and that the hand-writing is legible. Beautiful writing on an elegant card will keep your guests from realizing that you really want them to leave (especially the guy who looks like the lead singer from Flock of Seagulls) so you can just close the curtains, put your pajamas on, curl up on the sofa with the cat that used up the last of the paper towels, watch season 3 of Arrested Development on DVD, and finish off that nearly empty bottle of wine that no one seems to be enjoying.
I think these are the best bars. Ever. And there isn't a zest of lemon, or square of dark chocolate involved. For as much as I love dark chocolate, sometimes it's nice to take a break from it. We appreciate each other more after a brief period of separation, otherwise we just look at each other and think "oh, it's you...again." These bars are the perfect rebound after a hiatus from the chocolate.
They have that sublime brown-sugar-textured-chewiness that almost makes them taste like half-baked cookie dough. The brown butter gives the bars a creamy, nut-flavoured back drop and since they're made with only brown sugar there is more than a hint of deep, almost molasses-like caramel notes. The cinnamon just takes these bars to the edge of becoming a snickerdoodle. I didn't use too much because I didn't want to spice out that amazing brown butter taste. The espresso powder is barely noticeable, I think I would add more of it the next time. That molten butterscotch sauce is completely unnecessary. I just wanted to make these bars a little bit dressier. However, Be warned that once you try the bars and sauce together, you may no longer like the naked bars. I like my caramel and butterscotch to be slightly salty so it's the perfect marriage of sweet and salt, along with a mild punch of spice. Honestly, these are now my favourite bars...so far.
alias: Brown butter brown sugar espresso snickerdoodle butterscotch sauce bars
(bars adapted from not without salt)
(bars adapted from not without salt)
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cut into about 6 pieces for easier melting
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking Powder
2 teaspoons of salt
1 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of espresso powder (I should have used 1 1/2)
2 1/4 cups of firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
butterscotch sauce (adapted from smitten kitchen)
1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (use more or less to suit your taste)
Bars: Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter/spray a 9x13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter/flour the parchment. Or line the entire pan with tin foil (have the foil go over the edges for easy removal) grease and flour the foil.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt all the butter over low heat. Once the butter is melted, turn the heat up to medium and cook the butter until it turns golden brown and takes on a nutty fragrance. Depending on how high the heat is, this may take several minutes. Stir the butter occasionally and keep an eye on the colour. It will get a little bit 'foamy' but keep cooking until it starts to clarify and then change to a golden brown. Once it has browned, remove it from the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and espresso powder. Set it aside.
In a separate, larger bowl mix the butter and sugar together with a large wooden spoon or spatula (the mixture will be grainy). Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond. Mix well. Be sure the eggs have been well incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scraping down the sides of the bowl as you stir. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. It might be thick so you may have to spread it out with the spatula.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out slightly moist but with no crumbs. If the edges start to brown too much, remove the pan and cover just the edges with some tin foil. Once they are done, place the pan on a cooling rack and let it come to room temperature. You can serve these alone or with the butterscotch sauce.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar, cream, and salt. Whisk until blended. Bring the mixture to a slow, easy boil. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. *It will eventually begin to thicken. Once it does, cook for about 2 more minutes.*
Remove from heat. As it cools, the butterscotch will thicken. You can pour it over the bars just before serving them or pour it on ahead of time (this will result in a thicker, almost frosting-like sauce.)