Salted caramel espresso bars are a heavenly combination! Rich espresso brownies are swirled with homemade salted caramel sauce and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Perfect for a morning or afternoon pick me up!
Have I ever told you that I have an obsession with coffee? No? Well, I do. Likely a not-so-healthy obsession. Meaning I can drink coffee all. day. long!!
I also have a deep love of caramel. Homemade caramels are my favorite of all time!! So it's only logical that I finally combined two of my loves into one soft, chewy, coffee-y, sweet and salty treat.
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The inspiration for this recipe came from a recent hot summer day and two scoops of Sweet Peaks ice cream. I chose espresso and salty caramel and the mix of the two flavors was INCREDIBLE!! I stayed awake half the night thinking of ideas for new recipes and this is the first one I tested.
Are salted caramel espresso bars a brownie?
Kind of, except they have no traditional chocolate in them. Sally's Baking Addiction's white chocolate brownies were the jumping off point for my recipe testing.
I really wanted the espresso flavor to shine here and adding it to chocolate wasn't the flavor profile I was going for. Espresso has a rich and indulgent flavor all on it's own and that's what I want you to taste. So enter white chocolate. We get a dense, chewy base that is filled with coffee flavor and not overwhelmed with chocolate.
Let's make salted caramel espresso bars!
The first step is to make the homemade salted caramel sauce. I took my whiskey vanilla caramel sauce and made just a couple tweaks. If you want step-by-step photos of how to make the caramel sauce, be sure to check out that post. Make the sauce first, because it needs to cool to close to room temperature before adding it to the espresso bars. You can make the caramel sauce up to a couple weeks ahead, just store it in the refrigerator. It just needs to be at a pourable consistency before using.
If making your own caramel sauce feels too daunting, grab a jar of your favorite salted caramel and use that instead. Trader Joe's has a very delicious one!
what ingredients do I need?
- high quality white chocolate bar
- unsalted butter
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- instant espresso
- salted caramel (homemade or store-bought)
- coarse sea salt (optional, but highly recommended)
Prepare an 8x8 baking pan by greasing it or lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil and preheat the oven. Then whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. Melt the white chocolate and butter together using a double boiler or a microwave. Once melted and smooth, add the granulated sugar and whisk until combined.
Whisk in the eggs and vanilla (doesn't that vanilla look like a piece of bacon??😂) until fully combined, then add in the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.
Spread the espresso batter into the prepared pan, the batter is not overly thick. Drizzle the ¼ cup of salted caramel sauce over the top of the espresso bar batter. Using a toothpick or knife, drag the salted caramel through the batter both vertically and horizontally to create swirls of the espresso bars and salted caramel.
Finally, bake the salted caramel espresso bars. Remember that every oven is different. The bars will likely take 25-30 minutes to bake. Start checking them around 20 minutes. The edges will start to darken and pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean or with just a few moist crumbs when they are done baking. Try to test in an area that doesn't have a puddle of caramel!
want more recipes with homemade caramel sauce?
- Browned Butter Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
- Caramel and Brown Sugar Shortbread
- Chocolate Caramel Slice Bars
- Homemade Cookie Butter Caramel Sauce
- Whiskey Vanilla Caramel Sauce
If you make this recipe (or any recipe!) from two sugar bugs please come back and leave a review and a star rating. I read every comment, and I LOVE hearing from you!
Remember to snap a picture and tag me @twosugarbugs on Instagram if you make these salted caramel espresso bars. It warms my heart to see you bring these recipes to life! Thank you for being here and happy baking!
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 4 ounces white chocolate*, chopped
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup (cooled) salted caramel sauce
- coarse sea salt (optional)
Salted Carmel Sauce (yields one cup, you will have leftover sauce): Add one cup of granulated sugar to a medium saucepan and heat over medium, stirring constantly. Use a wooden spoon or a high heat resistant rubber spatula.
The sugar will start to melt. Then it will clump together before melting into a thick amber colored liquid.
When the sugar is fully melted, add the room temperature butter. The butter will cause the sugar to bubble rapidly, so use caution in this step.
Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely incorporated. I prefer using a whisk to keep the butter and sugar from separating, but your wooden spoon or spatula can work as well.
When your butter and sugar are fully incorporated, slowly add the heavy cream while continuing to whisk (or stir). Again, the mixture will bubble rapidly, so use caution.
Let the mixture boil for approximately one additional minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, followed by the salt.
Carefully pour caramel into a heatproof container and allow to cool down before using.
Espresso Bars: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line and 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the sides to be able to lift the finished bars out.
In a small to medium bowl whisk together the flour, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
Melt the butter and white chocolate together over a double boiler or use a microwave. If using a microwave, melt in 30 second intervals, whisking after each until fully melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs and vanilla and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula until just combined. Spread evenly into prepared pan, the batter is not overly thick. Drizzle ¼ cup of salted caramel sauce over the top of the espresso bar batter. Using a toothpick or knife, drag the salted caramel through the batter both vertically and horizontally to create swirls of the espresso bars and salted caramel.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. The edges will start to darken and pull away from the pan edges. Check the brownies around 20 minutes. If you think the bars are getting too dark, lightly cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Insert a toothpick into the center of the pan. If it comes out with wet batter, the bars are not done. If it’s clean or only has a few moist crumbs, the bars are finished. Try not to check in an area with a pool of caramel. Check every two minutes until the bars are done.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting. Drizzle with additional salted caramel and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired.
Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
*use a high quality white chocolate, such as Callebaut, Ghirardelli, Lindt or Baker’s brand. Typically you can find white chocolate bars in the baking section. Do not use chocolate chips.
Leftover caramel sauce should be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 0gSugar: 27gProtein: 2g
The nutrition information is an estimate and may not be entirely accurate.
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