Recipe: Coffee Crunch Bars

by Cate on June 6, 2011

First, before I forget, today is, of course, Eat. Live. Be. day.  I have kind of sucked at ELB updates lately and that pains me more than you know.  I have not fallen off the wagon, but with my sprained ankle, which is still mighty sore and swollen, I’m definitely off the exercise trail for another few weeks.  In a grand twist of irony, only two pairs of shoes fit my swollen ankle with the air cast.  One is quite cute and being worn into the ground.  Literally.  The other?  My Zumba sneakers.  Here, you can wear your Zumba sneakers, but you can’t Zumba!  I hope to be back to my same routine (or better!) in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I am totally babying my ankle.  It’s still super weak and I don’t want to push it and run the risk of reinjuring it. So no Zumba, or hiking, or spin or anything incredibly active.  Unless chasing my kids around counts.  And it likely doesn’t.  Today’s ELB topic is all about progress and redefining your goals.  Short of GETTING BACK TO IT, my goals are still very much the same.  Since I can’t update further, go read up on what my fellow ELBers are up to, and see how they’ve been faring:

Coffee Crunch BarsNow how ’bout a little food? I first made these Coffee Crunch Bars mid-last year. I never wrote about them, because, to be quite honest, they did nothing for me. They did, however, become a quick favorite of one of my co-workers, Jaclyn. Any time I owe her a favor for hooking me up with a project at work, I know it’s easily returned by making her a batch of these. A few days after I sprained my ankle, she sent me a text message, asking if I was home. Minutes later, she stopped by with a complete dinner: pork chops, sauteed apples and a loaf of bread. I was completely blown away by her thoughtfulness, and the food was perfect. Unfortunately, hobbling around on a bum ankle has made cooking (and standing on said bum ankle) less than appealing, so dinner that doesn’t come from a drive-thru was (and still is an absolute god-send). I definitely owed her big this time. As I texted her a picture of the cooling Coffee Crunch Bars tonight, she replied seconds later with a very happy “whoo hoo!” Her Tupperware container is finally clean and going back filled with fresh baked goodies.

For Miss DeniseAnother friend loaned Nick a bunch of sports gear for a presentation he is doing for school tomorrow. Extra Coffee Crunch Bars heading her way as a thank you too.  One good turn deserves another.

When the recipe first hit Bon Appetit magazine, something shared by Molly of Orangette fame, there was a little controversy. Apparently the recipe appeared in the magazine the way Molly originally submitted it, but the online version was changed, to the tune of adding an extra 20 minutes to the baking time, resulting in very dry, overdone Coffee Crunch Bars. This is definitely one of those times that it pays to read the comments and reviews when making an online recipe, though I was safe since I had torn out the clipping. Even as print magazines fold and Kindle sales go up, I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart, and still love flipping through a magazine.

Although it’s not a go-to recipe for me, you may be like Jaclyn and love it. They are super simple to make, and you likely have the ingredients already on hand. A huge plus, if you ask me. It takes just a few minutes to mix it together, and 25 minutes in the oven. A perfect way to say thank you to those people making your life a little easier.

PS – The recipe below is how it originally ran, and how I’ve always made it since.

June 6, 2011 – Bonus Photos
Kid SectionI am wondering what age children start behaving in the library. It is not three. Certainly not if your name is Madeline. She was fine in the closed off kids section, but Lord help me when I dared to venture into the grown-up section. I stopped counting the dirty looks we got as I scrambled to quickly find my one title. She got mad when I wouldn’t let her check out a political book because it had her FAVORITE animal (you know, an elephant) on the cover, and flopped herself on the chair and announced how BORING this place was. I’m sure I didn’t catch her trying to slide the aisle descriptions out of the little placeholders on the bookcases so people could find their books easily. Not my child.  And people wonder why Amazon boasts such amazing sales records! It’s ’cause I can’t set foot in the library with my child… YET.  ‘Tis a shame because they redid our library last year and it is stunning.

Caution: Kid at Work


Coffee Crunch Bars
Adapted from Leah Reich and her grandmother, Mamie Chaiffetz

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed dark muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee
1/2 cup sliced almonds (I skip)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars with an electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the almond extract and instant espresso, and beat 1 minute more. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture in three doses, mixing until just absorbed. Stir in the almonds and chocolate chips. The dough will be thick. Turn the dough out onto an ungreased (approximately 12-inch x 17-inch) rimmed baking sheet. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into a 12-inch by 12-inch square. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the top looks set. Cool in the pan for 1 minute; then, while still hot, cut into 24 (2-inch by 3-inch) bars. Transfer immediately to wire rack to cool completely. Bars will crisp as they cool.

Note: Bars will keep, sealed in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 5 days. Their flavor improves with time.

Yield: 24 bars

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne June 7, 2011 at 5:25 am

Ah Cate I’m so sorry your ankle has still been bothering you! It will get better though and it’s definitely worth it to be patient now rather than pay for it later!

These coffee crunch bars look amazingly delicious! I’m all for coffee-flavored anything!


Ramona June 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm

That girl is a big MESS!


Suzanne June 9, 2011 at 12:46 am

Your coffee crunch bars look so tasty!


Debra Malone July 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

My first experience with Coffee Crunch Bars was in 1974. These bars have been a family favorite ever since. Nice blend of chocolate and coffee adn depending on how long you bake them nice and crunchy. I make them in the food processor and start with the butter, flour and brown sugar then add the rest of the ingredients and bake.

The recipe was published in the Thrid Printing of the “Betty Crocker Cookbook for Two.” The recipe is a little different than the one published in this article.
Interestly I can not find the recipe on the Betty Crocker website.

If you haven’t tried them I suggest you do, they are quick and easy. We also like them warm from the pan with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a little bit of chocolate syrup.


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