Espresso Shortbread Brownie Bars

I subscribe to quite a few culinary magazines; however, I don’t have a lot of free time, so they usually get filed into magazine organizers without much use. Sure I thumb through them and randomly mark pages with post-it notes, but inevitably the sit around and collect dust. For some reason, I just can’t bring myself to cancel the subscriptions.

However, this month’s issue of Food & Wine struck my fancy and I have since made three desserts from their delectable May recipe index. The first recipe that caught my eye were these Espresso-Shortbread Brownie Bars, so I decided to make them as a perfect ending to a family dinner of five-cheese manicotti.

The recipe is pretty straightforward and the espresso shortbread crust is a cinch to prepare in a food processor. When I first placed the shortbread crust into the pan, I thought there was no way I could get it to cover the entire bottom of pan. However, after a little patience and a lot of spreading, it worked out just fine. The only adjustment I made to this recipe was to use espresso powder as opposed to ground espresso beans, but my guess is they are pretty darn similar. I would definitely kick up the espresso powder amount as it was only slightly detectable in the finished product.

Although this recipe is not a new household fave, it is definitely a good recipe and a nice twist on traditional brownies. Brian prefers his brownies to be all ooey and gooey and these definitely do not fit that description. Personally, I was a big fan of the buttery espresso flecked shortbread crust.

Bottom Line? Are the decadent? Yes. Would I make them again? With so many other recipes out there to experiment with, I doubt I will give these a second try. I hope you have a delicious day and if you decide to give these a whirl, definitely come back and let me know your results!


Espresso-Shortbread Brownie Bars


For the Shortbread Crust

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans (I used espresso powder)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Brownie Topping

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs


1. Make the Shortbread Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine the butter with the flour, sugar, ground espresso and salt; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Press the crumbs into a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan to form a crust; prick all over with a fork. Freeze for 5 minutes, until firm. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, Prepare the Brownie Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa, salt and baking powder. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the chocolate over low heat.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the brownie batter is smooth.

4. Pour the brownie batter over the shortbread crust, smoothing the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, until the brownie top is dry and lightly cracked around the edges; the center will still be a bit soft. 5. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.


- The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

from Food & Wine Magazine; May 2010


19 Responses to “Espresso Shortbread Brownie Bars”

  1. Jessica @ How Sweet — May 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I saw these in Food and Wine too and they sounded delicious. Look delicious, too!


  2. janis — May 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    ooh… it looks yummy!
    better try this sometime :D


  3. Eliana — May 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I can’t bring myself to cancel my foodie magazine subscriptions either. Even though I can get the recipes online, thumbing through the pages is so therapeutic.


  4. hannah @ thepastrykook — May 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    i think they look great!


  5. Joanne — May 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I know what you mean about having way too many cooking magazines and not enough time to read them. I have stacks upon stacks!

    I really like the sound of the shortbread crust! I may use that and doctor up the brownie topping a bit.


  6. DessertForTwo — May 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I feel the same way–there are so many other recipes I want to try that, unless it’s mind-blowing, it will probably not get made again. It doesn’t mean the recipe isn’t good though. These look great–thanks for an honest review! :)


  7. betty — May 24, 2010 at 1:45 am

    these look great! i really need a food processor… :O)

    thanks for sharing! x


  8. CaSaundra — May 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I have a similar problem with too many magazines, but I always think, one day they will come in handy! Haha :-) These bars sound really unique–thanks for sharing!


  9. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — May 24, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I made these as well but we really liked them. I also substituted some Italian espresso powder and added a bit more than the recipe called for so I could discern a decidedly coffee flavor. The end result for me was more of a cookie texture; however living in Colorado see many baked goods end up slightly different than the recipe developer expected. Our dry air and high altitude make baking a guessing game every time!

    As much as I liked them, we loved the Pecan Shortbread in the same article; try those sometime…they disappeared and are so easy to make!


  10. Maria — May 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I think these are worth a try, at least once:)


  11. Cherine — May 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Those look delicious!


  12. Lori @ RecipeGirl — May 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Mmmmm! I haven’t taken a peek at this month’s issue yet… still sitting in the monster pile of food mags that I (insanely) get every month. I can’t keep up.
    These, however, look delicious :)


  13. Sue — May 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    These look great! I have to try these.


  14. Katrina — May 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I love the look of these. They are gorgeous…and will obviously taste good as well!!


  15. Memoria — May 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Oh goodness! These brownie bars look perfect. What great photos!


  16. Jennifer — May 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    These look amazing. Your pictures always make me wanna try your recipes. As for the stacked up magazines. I have the same problem. I literally have 1 drawer in the kitchen that’s overflowing with years old Bon Apetits that I have yet to go through. But I don’t want to throw them out because I know I’ll get through them… some day.


  17. Weekend Cowgirl — May 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    These look delicious. Hoping to make them this weekend!


  18. Marwa — June 29, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Amazingly enough, i did this recipe and for some odd reason, the brownie topping just wouldn’t harden! It remained goey … and my friends and family just loved it! I can send Brian a piece ;) Just wonder why it came out goey, I even kept it in the oven for 15 more minutes and it still didn’t harden?!?
    I love your blog & recipes, as soon as i see a new one, i rush off to give it a shot :)


  19. JD — July 1, 2010 at 12:59 am

    do you think i could use the boxed brownie mix for the top part and keep the mocha shortbread base as is?


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