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Dream Bars…mmm…they are the stuff good dreams are made of.  A little gooey.  A little crunchy.  Sweet and delicious.  And so, so easy.  Another childhood recipe, updated.   Dream Bars are all over the InterWebs, as well as any cookbook from the 1960’s and 70’s.  The recipe here is a standard Dream Bar, however it does have a little heavy cream in the filling.  That’s not all that common, but my mother added it, as she liked the filling better with it.  At times she would use heavy cream, that she had let sour for her Sour Cream Chocolate Cake.  Which I just realized, I haven’t posted.  How did that happen?  Anyway, I did make a couple of changes to the original recipe.  I prefer to think of them as embellishments.  I added bourbon, Calabrian chile and some espresso powder.  I’ll just let that sink in for a moment…take your time.

These bars were an after-thought for dessert, so I have no pictures of the actual making of the bars.  Just the results.  I thought they could use more bourbon, chile and espresso, so I adjusted the recipe, which now reflects those changes. Also, I baked them in a 9×9-inch pan, and I think that was too large, so I made that change, too.

Check out the method.  It’s very straight-forward and I doubt if it needs an explanation.  If so, please ask me.  On thing to note, after the bars are finished baking and have cooled for about 8 or 10 minutes, make certain you run a table knife around the edge, making certain to reach the bottom of the pan.  If you don’t, they stick like crazy and you’ll be piecing them back together, or crumbling them up and making a parfait!  Which, is also very good.

Maple-Bourbon Dream Bars with a Hint of Coffee and Chile

  • Servings: 9-16 bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • Base:
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated maple sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Large pinch Calabrian chile powder or cayenne pepper (at least 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (or use half maple sugar, half brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 teaspoons very, very finely ground espresso beans (Turkish grind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (I this more!)

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat the butter, sugar and first amount of salt with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Stir in 1 cup flour. Pat in bottom of ungreased square pan, 8x8x2-inches. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until very light brown.  Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, whisk the eggs slightly with wire whisk. Stir in the bourbon, heavy cream and vanilla. Gradually whisk in brown sugar just until blended. Beat in the remaining flour, espresso powder and salt; mix well. Stir in coconut and pecans. Carefully spoon coconut mixture evenly over baked crust.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and filling is set, but begin checking at about 18 minutes.  Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Run a table knife around edges of pan to loosen. Cool completely, about 1 hour.  Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

NOTE:  You can cut them larger, but these are pretty rich.  They are excellent served with a scoop of ice cream.  If you want a more pronounced maple flavor, add a few drops of maple extract.  Adding 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolates chips makes for possibly an even tastier bar…I leave that choice up to you.

Maple-Bourbon Dream Bars with a Hint of Coffee and Chile Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.