Sunday, September 4, 2011

tailgating 2011: coffee crunch bars

our 27th wedding anniversary gift:  tailgate flag and 20+' pole
really comes in handy for finding our tailgate at halftime!
note the little Duke flag in case there is another Rogers family flag out there


The arrival of college football season is like Christmas for my entire little family of four.  We count it down and then jump right in and enjoy it to it's fullest.  Saturday was the home and season opener for our Purdue Boilermakers.  They tried very hard to lose their game to a "directional" Tennessee school, but managed to win in gut-wrenching fashion on a record-setting 97-degree afternoon.  Every year, so excited for a new season.  And recently those good feelings barely last past kick-off.  As Greg says, we've never lost a tailgate.  This is our final season with one of our girls as a Purdue student and we are off to a festive start.  Kelly brought a happy crowd of sorority sisters to join our mainstay base of Greg, myself, Lance and Dawn and our guests for the week:  Greg's parents, Charlie and Becky (both Purdue people as are my parents, the black and gold runs deep). A sweaty start, but since we won it's all good.  One tailgate down and six to go!
Kelly and half of her grandparents that went to Purdue
(she's 21, the beer is now legal excise people)

senior sorority girls (some in Survivor gear from Breakfast Club-
a Purdue tradition where bars open at 5 a.m. before home football games)

Kelly and me profusely sweating and hugging it out

First tailgate means classic tailgate fare:  queso and chips, hot dogs (Coleman uncured natural beef from Costco), hamburgers, fruit, veggies, snacks and desserts.  I tried a new twist on a family favorite adding King Arthur Flour's lemon bits to mascarpone cupcakes which I baked the night before (I will post the recipe, just might not squeek it into this post).  Got up nice and early on Saturday and decided I also had to bake something with chocolate that wouldn't get too melty.  Dusted off a recipe for a coffee crunch bar cookie that I've had since I sang in the chancel choir with my parents during my high school years.  That's a vintage recipe card (made it at least 30 years ago).  I grew up (baptized, confirmed and married) in the Chagrin Falls United Methodist Church where my parents have been members for 50 years.  My dad still sings in the chancel choir.  Good times.  Anyway, the choir director's wife made these for a church function and what's not to love?  So easy and really delicious.  I did update them a bit using espresso powder instead of instant ground coffee, splitting the sugar into half white and half brown and adding kosher salt since it doesn't melt into the batter as much as table salt for a little extra sweet v salty ratio. Yes, they are basically butter and sugar.  That, I believe, is exactly what makes them so good.  Make them and share them at work, a tailgate or a party so you can enjoy them but not eat the entire pan!

Coffee Crunch Bars

1 C unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C sugar
2 heaping T espresso powder 
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (mine is an emulsion from KAF)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 C flour
1 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, sugars, espresso powder and extracts until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour and salt until well-blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  You can add some chopped almonds too if you like.  Spread batter in an un-greased jelly-roll or 9x13x2 pan.  It's easiest just to use your hands, but if that's not a tactile experience you enjoy spray a spatula with cooking spray and move the batter around that way.  Bake 20-22 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and break into pieces to serve (breaking like peanut brittle, you can't cut them very easily).  Remember to share them or I'll be seeing you at hot yoga every day for the next few weeks while you work them off.  Don't worry, I'll be working off tailgates through November!  Totally worth it.


what you need

creamed butter, sugars, extracts and espresso powder

flour, salt and chips mixed in

in the oven
ready for breaking and eating!






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