Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars

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.


  1. Have fun in Delaware! These bars look scrumptious.

    Comment by Tessa — June 30, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  2. Stunning. I mean really stunningly beautiful bars. And thanks for the tips, too. The shortcut-taker in me needs a reminder that some instructions in life really aren’t optional.

    Have a lovely trip east. When are you coming to sing & play guitar for ME?

    Comment by cheryl — June 30, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  3. These look drool-worthy! I just bookmarked them and can’t wait to try!

    Comment by natalie (the sweets life) — June 30, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  4. Absolutely beautiful! Looks like you’d need a mug of coffee or tall glass of cold milk to accompany these sweet treats. Have a wonderful vacation!

    Comment by Emily — June 30, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  5. I can totally relate … we let Nelle watch as much TV as she wants to on the plane. and coming from Australia this turns her into a zombie by the time we hit – well, any other continent.

    Love the look of this recipe!! And love Emily’s suggestion of a mug of coffee. Mmmm…

    Have a lovely holiday :)

    Comment by Amanda@Easy Peasy Organic — June 30, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  6. You know what Delaware is? Close to NYC. Just saying.

    Even if it’s not as glamorous a vacation as you’re used to, I’m sure you’ll have a good time! I didn’t know you could sing or play the guitar…when I come visit you are breaking out those skills :P

    These bars sound AMAZING. I am so sold on making them.

    Comment by Joanne — June 30, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  7. Oh, these look simply amazing! I’m headed off to scan the kitchen to see if I have all of the ingredients on hand right now.

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — June 30, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

  8. Okay, I don’t know how anyone could look at this recipe and wonder, “How could this be good?” The name of the recipe is Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars. That’s all the proof I need!

    Comment by Lisa @ The Cooking Bride — June 30, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  9. Wow, these look gorgeous. Really exceptional. Have a good trip :)

    Comment by Jacqueline — June 30, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

  10. These look amazing, I can’t wait to try them!!!

    Comment by Piper@GotItCookIt — July 1, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  11. Waxed Paper, really? I’ve been loath to use wax paper every since attempting a Nigella Lawson macaroon recipe that called for putting them on waxed paper before baking. They stuck horribly and I always figured the “wax paper” part was a mis-translation for parchment paper.

    Comment by Michelle — July 1, 2011 @ 2:47 am

  12. You evil, evil, wonderful woman. I think my hips went up a size just from the picture. I must make these as soon as possible. >_>

    Michelle, the one time I tried to bake using waxed paper, it created a horrible scary smell in my kitchen. I would probably use parchment here, myself.

    Comment by Elizabeth B — July 1, 2011 @ 6:24 am

  13. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but apparently your bars have an effect that is independent from it.

    wow, they look awesome! I must make them and take to my lab, the students will love me forever…

    Comment by SallyBR — July 1, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  14. Gnosh Shmosh, these look amazing! Sinful!
    Happy 4th D.T.

    Comment by stacey snacks — July 1, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  15. Friends, I did use waxed paper. I almost
    always use parchment but did not here. The batter almost completely covered the paper and I did not leave much of an overhang at all. Maybe an inch. I’m sure parchment would be fine.

    Comment by dana — July 1, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  16. Yes, please! These look soooo good!

    Comment by melinda ke — July 1, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

  17. These look amazing and I’m sure my boy would be all over them if I ever convince my hips it would be a good idea for me to make these. And have a fabulous time in Delaware – I think it’s fair to say your boys will – beach, popsicles, family, rides – sounds like my boy’s dream vacation (not to worry about him, we’re going on our version in a few weeks).

    Comment by Charlotte — July 1, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

  18. Oh my god. I just had to say that these look amazing!

    Comment by Hilary — July 3, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

  19. I just tried these and for some reason, they wound up turning out nothing like yours did. I did halve the recipe and use an 8×8 pan, so maybe that was enough to jinx the whole thing, but I wound up with a very flat, dense, intensely sweet and gooey center with edges that were too crispy. I also had trouble with the wax paper sticking to the cake horribly, despite buttering and flour-ing it well.

    I trimmed the crisped edges and my family went nuts over those while I stuck the ganache-topped center in the fridge to chill and firm up, so I can’t call this a disaster or anything – I was just wondering if you had any ideas as to what could’ve happened to make them turn out so differently. Yours look so gorgeous, and mine are..well, not something I’d be serving to a crowd, to say the least.

    Comment by Jessica — July 11, 2011 @ 1:15 am

  20. Dana, can you elaborate on what you mean by halving the cake crosswise? I was picturing slicing slicing it horizontally, creating two 10×15 cakes, but I’m in the process of making these now and my cake is so thin I can’t imagine being able to really slice it that way. I may slice it right down the middle and create smaller, really thick bars. Thanks!

    Comment by Meghan — July 19, 2011 @ 3:13 am

  21. I tried making these this morning and I decimated the cookie bars when I was trying to cut them. Next time I think I will bake 2 8×8 batches of brown sugar bar and then just layer them with the ganache.

    I currently have brown sugar bar-chocolate ganache cake balls chilling in my fridge….we’ll see how that turns out! :)

    Comment by Maris (In Good Taste) — July 22, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

  22. These look incredible. Anything with brown sugar and chocolate cannot be bad. Just wondering… would these bars travel well? I want to ship them to a friend in the next state over, but am curious as to if they would need to be refridgerated.

    Comment by Dana — February 7, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  23. […] ganache, and, well, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Found on Dana Treat this Ganache-Filled Brown Sugar Bars recipe seems to just be calling my name. What’s really great about Dana is that she gives you […]

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  24. These look both insanely good and insanely decadent!

    Comment by brighteyedbaker — July 30, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

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  26. Just made these and with gluten-free flour! They turned out DELICIOUSLY! Here’s the link to my blog so you can see the entry if you’d like!

    Comment by Madeline — August 3, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

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