Given half a chance, Bob would eat chocolate at every meal. Start the day with a chocolate-coated breakfast bar then move on to Chocolate Chip Cookies at lunch and his favorite Chocolate Cream Pie for dinner? He'd call that heaven!
If you can relate, you're gonna LOVE this cocoa-licious choice from The Old Farmer's Everyday Baking Almanac (Sherin Press, 2012, $9.95). Moister than a brownie; more substantial than a pudding, these Chocolate Mud Bars have a chewy, gooey texture that practically melts in your mouth. We're wild about their thick, milk chocolate filling (or mud as it's called), especially since it is packed with nuts (another of Bob's favorites!) and sits atop a homemade graham cracker crust.
Preparing these bars is a no-brainer but you do need to begin several hours ahead of serving. Set out all the ingredients listed below, especially the eggs, about an hour before starting so everything comes to room temperature.
I'm usually all about picking up a ready-made crust to avoid work but it's easy to make your own with this recipe. Once you've crumbled the graham crackers, use your hands to combine them with light brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Yeah, that's a little messy so be sure to butter the 8-inch square baking pan to hold the bars (or spray it with something like Pam) before beginning. But talk about simple. You just toss the ingredients together with your fingers - no mixer required - and press it in the pan.
In fact, you can forget all about your mixer with this delightful dessert. You'll need a whisk, double boiler and a medium bowl when making the "mud." If you don't have a double boiler (it took me 34 years to get one!), grab two small pans that are about the same size. Put some water in the larger one, set it on the stove to heat and place the other on top. Then you can melt the chocolate and butter for the filling together without fear of scorching. Afterwards, scrape the mixture into the bowl to cool while warming the oven. About 10 minutes later, whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract; then stir in the cake flour and, lastly, add the walnuts.
Now, you're ready to pour the filling into the crust and bake in the preheated oven for EXACTLY 35 minutes, no longer. Trust me, there's no need to test for doneness. Just pull the bars from the oven and set them on a rack to cool as soon as the timer goes off. Once they're cool, stash the bars in the fridge for at least an hour. Then you can slice them, let them come to room temperature and serve.
Great for lunch, dinner or snack-time, these yummy chocolate-and-nut packed treats are the best mud you'll ever eat!
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
For crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well with your hands. Add the melted butter, stir well with a fork, then rub the ingredients together well with your fingers until thoroughly mixed. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan to form a level layer on the bottom with a lip extending about 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. (Do not prebake the crust).
For filling: Combine the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over not-quite-simmering water. When melted, whisk to smooth; then remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and cool to lukewarm. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla into the lukewarm chocolate. Stir in the cake flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the walnuts. Scrape the batter over the crust and smooth with a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack for 35 minutes only - no longer. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate an hour or so before slicing. Serve at room temperature.
Other Works by Ken Haedrich: Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie, recently named one of the best baking books of the past 25 years by Cooking Light magazine, and 11 other cookbooks
Others in The Old Farmer's Almanac Series: The Garden-Fresh Cookbook and The Everyday Cookbook
Publisher: Sherin Press
Penned: October 2012
What's Inside: More than 118 easy-to-follow recipes for making delectable homemade goodies completely from scratch. Besides Soft Buttermilk, Virginia Peanut and other pie-riffic options, you'll find ideas for breakfast delights like Pumpkin Sugar Cake, quick breads (think Glazed Lemon Coconut Loaf), and cakes and cookies for every occasion (Marble Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting, anyone?).
Wondering what to do with fresh fruit? It's simple to whip up a Maple Apple Crisp, Blueberry Peach Cornmeal Cobbler or one of the many other fruit-filled options in this sweet-treat handbook. Sprinkled with time-tested tips, it's a great resource for newbies as well as experienced bakers. Thanks to Everyday Baking, I've learned eggs need about an hour to come to room temperature before baking and, even better, discovered what to do if you forget to set them out! (Hint: Put them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes before using.)
Time Out: 136 pages
Available: $9.99 wherever books and magazines are sold
* Reprinted with permission from The Old Farmer's Everday Baking Almanac
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