Chocolate Layer Bars
• 2 cups (approximately 12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped)
• 8 oz cream cheese
• ⅔ cup (5 oz) evaporated milk
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 cup (8 oz, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick spray (or alternately, prep with an aluminum foil “sling,” as explained in the Chocolate Walnut Sensations recipe).
2. Combine the chocolate chips, the cream cheese, and the evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Over low heat, cook the mixture, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, uniform, and fluid. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chopped walnuts and almond extract.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine; set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until lightened and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in the eggs and continue beating until combined. Lower the mixer speed to medium low and add in the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until well combined. The mixture will resemble coarse crumbs; it won’t be a solid mass, like a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe.
4. Transfer half of the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and press down to form an even laver across the bottom. Pour in the chocolate mixture, spreading to the edges to get an even layer. Then sprinkle the rest of the crumbs over the chocolate – do not press down; you want that craggy, crumbly “coffee cake topping” look.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating once halfway through. The dessert is done baking when the crumbs on top are lightly golden brown, you can see the chocolate beneath the crumb is shimmery, and the whole thing is very aromatic. Remove to a trivet and let cool to room temperature. Slice and serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Not much else to say here - it's a pretty simple assembly. The "pat in the pan" crust makes things incredibly easy. This rounds out the bar trifecta here - it's somewhere in between the deep heartiness of the Chocolate Walnut Sensations and the decadent Cherry Cheesecake Bars.
Pairs Well With
I love almond extract. I love it even more when combined with chocolate. And it really goes all out when it involves a sweet crumb topping. I'm always amazed at how such a small dose of almond extract can produce such big flavor, but I'm not complaining.