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Author Notes: Inspired by a recipe from Vermont Creamery, these fantastic bars combine a fudgy brownie-like top with moist blondie-like base flavored with almond extract. Best of all, you just make one batter, then reserve 1/4 to swirl with a cocoa powder paste to make the chocolate topping. —Posie Harwood
Makes one 8" square pan
- 1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or melted butter)
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) melted butter
- 1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (7/8 ounce) almond meal (optional, for a more moist bar)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease an 8" square pan and line with parchment. Grease the parchment lightly.
- Whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water, and oil in a small bowl to form a paste. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until no lumps remain. Add the egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, and mascarpone and whisk until well-combined.
- Add the flour, almond meal (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine but don't overmix.
- Pour 3/4 of the batter into your prepared pan. Add the cocoa powder paste to the remaining 1/4 of the batter and mix.
- Spoon the chocolate batter over the pan and, using an offset spatula, spread the batter in an even layer. (You can swirl it into the base with a knife if you want to be fancy. I respect that.)
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't overbake!