Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars

Posted June 30, 2011

Friends, it’s that time of year.  It seems that ever since I have kept this blog, I go out of town around the end of June/beginning of July.  Last year, I went to Cannes/Paris/London.  This year, I am going to Delaware.  Ahem.  Not that there is anything wrong with Delaware it’s just not, well, um, Cannes, Paris, or London.  I don’t think I will be shopping for copper pots or taking a train underneath the English Channel.  What I will be doing is getting quality time with Randy’s huge extended family.

Here is what I expect: a plane ride complete with ridiculous amounts of technology and lots of usually-forbidden snacks, two boys spending a week covered in sand and smelling of sunscreen and Popsicles, eating lots and lots of carbs, getting forced to sing and play guitar in front of  50+ family members, roller coasters and cotton candy on the boardwalk, and truly enjoying a vacation.

This has been a busy month.  I taught six classes in three weeks.  I didn’t do much cook-for-my-family cooking.  But I did manage to squeeze some yummy things in.  I have time to share the food but I don’t have time to write super witty and topical posts to accompany the recipes.  Forgive me?  I think after this treat you just might.

Sometimes I look at a recipe with few ingredients and scoff.  A “how could this be good?” kind of thing.  I’ll tell you how this can be good – brown sugar bars with chocolate ganache sandwiched in the middle.  The components of these bars are super easy to make.  Assembly is a little tricky.  Learn from my experience and mistakes:

Do butter and flour the pan well and definitely use the wax paper that is suggested.
Do dollop the batter all over the pan, this will make it easier to spread.
Do use a palette knife to smooth the top.
Don’t underbake.  Or overbake.
Do use a palette knife to coax the wax paper away from the pan before turning out onto a rack.
Don’t move the cake part around too much, this will make it crack.
Do make sure you put the cake on a cutting board that will fit in your refrigerator.
Do wipe your knife off in between cuts so you don’t get chocolate residue on the edges.  If you care about that sort of thing.  (I didn’t do this.)
Do use a ruler to make sure you get all your pieces the same size.  If you care about that sort of thing.  (See above.)
Do cut these in small pieces and be prepared for children in your life to go absolutely nuts for them.

Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes 32 bars (or more if you cut them smaller)

½ cup heavy cream
½ pound bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl.  Bring the cream to a boil over moderate heat.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for one minute.  Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the two together until smooth.  Let stand until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Lightly butter a 10-by-15-inch baking pan.  Line the pan with wax paper; butter and flour the paper.

Whisk the flour with the salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed for 3 minute.  Beat in the eggs 1 at a time.  Beat in the vanilla.  At low speed, beat in the flour in 3 additions; the batter will be fairly stiff.  Spread the batter in the pan.  Bake for 18 to 20, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Cover the baking pan with a large wire rack and invert.  Remove the pan and peel off the wax paper.  Invert the cake onto a large cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, halve the cake crosswise.  Spread the ganache evenly over one of the cake halves, leaving a 1/8-inch border.  Top with the other cake half.  Cover and refrigerate until the ganache is set, at least 2 hours.

Trim the edges of the cake.  Cut the cake lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 8 bars.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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