If wake-up calls in hotels were this chocolaty and gratifying, we would request them even if we didn’t need to get up. Dense and dark with chocolate-flavored with coffee, and laced with chocolate espresso beans, these bars are real eye-openers. They are perfect afternoon pick-me-ups but don’t eat them just before bedtime.
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chocolate espresso beans (available in gourmet and coffee shops)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks or real chocolate chips
How to Make It
Preheat a conventional oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil and brush it with softened butter.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a covered microwavable dish for 2 minutes in the microwave oven, or place in a heavy pan on the stovetop over low heat, until the chocolate is almost melted. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth and all of the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl stir the flour and cocoa with a wire whisk until evenly blended. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the brown sugar, sugar, salt, baking soda, and espresso powder for about 20 seconds, until evenly combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and smooth. With the mixer running on low speed, add the melted chocolate mixture, beating for about 45 seconds, until blended in. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and add half of the flour and cocoa mixture. Beat on low speed for about 20 seconds, scrape the bowl and add the sour cream. Beat again at low speed for 20 seconds, and scrape the bowl. Add the remaining flour and cocoa, the espresso beans, the walnuts, and the chocolate and beat on low speed just until all are blended in. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to be sure the dough is mixed evenly.
Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, using the rubber spatula to smooth the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, reversing the baking pan halfway through the baking time. A toothpick inserted in the center of the pan will come out clean. The bars will firm up as they cool, so do not overbake them. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, cut them into bars.
Store the cooled bars in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 2 months. (See freezing instructions on the Recipe Guidelines page.)