, , ,

True Story: Last Friday, I gave up sugar. I mean, not in a crazy won’t eat a banana or a piece of bread sort of way. In a ‘Hey, my jeans are too small and it’s not cause I put them in the dryer’ sort of way. Time to get off my Halloween to Easter candy eating binge. I made it almost through the entire day, flipped on Food Network while folding laundry and there was that Giada, all perky and annoyingly post baby thin, making caramel espresso bars. I tried to ignore it, but the bars called my name all weekend. I broke down yesterday and made them.

Well worth having to buy new pants, in my opinion.

As far as the taste: well it’s delicious and decadent. I’m not going to lie, they taste an awful lot like white trash toffee. So if you want to go high brow and sophisticated, make these. Otherwise, get out your saltines and make yourself some toffee.

A note on caramel: the recipe online says to cook your sugar until it’s 240 degrees but on the show Giada says 250 and that’s the temp you get caramel at: 250. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, PLEASE, PLEASE, go here and learn the firm ball stage and how to figure out if your caramel is ready. I don’t have a candy thermometer, but my great aunt taught me soft ball/firm ball stage years ago and it works everytime.

Happy face stuffing!

Caramel Espresso Bars


  • 12 whole graham crackers or 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick of butter (4 oz) melted (not 1.5 sticks as Giada suggests)
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • 1 stick butter (4 oz) room temp
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. water

Chocolate Layer

I accidentally bought whipping cream. Probably the same as heavy cream, except they put some chemical in it to make it whip better.

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate (try dark if you prefer) (2 cups is one bag of chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 teasp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 teasp. smoked sea salt (or any sea salt really)
  1. To make the crust: crush your graham crackers into fine crumbs. Mix in melted butter and sugar, press firmly into the bottom of a sprayed, parchment lined spring form pan. Bake at 350 10-12 minutes until golden brown, set aside to cool.
  2. While crust cools, make caramel layer. Stir together butter, sugar, cream and water in a large saucepan until smooth. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and cook 5-7 minutes until it reaches 250 degrees or firm ball stage. DO NOT walk away from the caramel.
  3. Pour caramel over crust and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then place in freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the caramel becomes firm.
  4. Make the ganache layer: over a double boiler melt chocolate and heavy cream until smooth, cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in espresso powder. Pour over caramel layer and smooth evenly with a spatula. Let set for one minute, then sprinkle with salt if desired.
  5. FREEZE for at least one hour. You can use a warm knife to slice into bars.

Make sure you really pack the graham cracker crumbs in and then bake until it's golden brown. That's how you get the crust to stay firm.

DO NOT, under any circumstance walk away from boiling sugar. It will turn from this lovely shade to BURNED in a heartbeat. And honestly, if you don't have a candy thermometer, you'll be just fine using the old fashioned firm ball test.

Oh Caramel! Oh Chocolate! Lots and lots of spoon, spatula and pan licking opportunities in this recipe.

I used regular sea salt from the Morton's sea salt grinder. I really laid it down thick, I love love love me some chocolate and salt. But you make your own call.

Little bars of deliciousness. Now almost gone, less than 24 hours later.