These may seem like fairly unassuming little treats, but let me assure you that these delectable morsels left me nearly speechless.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars

I could tolerate (and quite possibly enjoy) eating anything filled with dark chocolate ganache, but when you actually pair the succulent, creamy, decadent dark chocolate with something as enticing as a brown sugar bar layer – well, I could agree to eat it every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it.

As much as my life tends to revolve around dark chocolate, I must admit that the real star of this dessert is the brown sugar layer. I have never tasted a chewier more delectable brown sugar bar. Loaded with dark brown sugar, these bars are beyond description. A tinge of butterscotch flavor combined with extreme buttery chewiness makes the partnership between the bars and the chocolate completely fantastical.

Make Ahead Tip: These bars can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars

Yield: Makes 32 small bars

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars


  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray the bottom of a 10 by 15-inch baking sheet (jelly roll size pan) with cooking spray or lightly coat with butter. Line the pan with wax paper and then butter and lightly flour the paper and sides of the pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating just until well blended. The batter will be fairly stiff.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean but not dry; do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Bring the cream just to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate and stir gently to combine until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Let the ganache stand at room temp for 20-30 minutes to set. It should be spreadable but not runny.
  6. Invert the brown sugar cake again onto a large cutting board. Cut the cake crosswise in half with a long serrated knife (just like you would cut a sandwich in half to share with someone – NOT like you would cut a cake into two layers, the bars are too thin for that). Spread the ganache evenly on one half of the cake to within 1/8 inch of the edges. Carefully set the other cake half on the top, matching the cut edges. Cover and refrigerate until the ganache is set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  7. To serve, trim the uncut edges of the cake. Cut the cake lengthwise into 4 strips then cut each strip into 8 rectangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe Source: adapted from Luscious Chocolate Desserts

46 Responses to Dark Chocolate Ganache Filled Brown Sugar Bars

  1. Leanne says:

    Has anyone adapted these for Gluten free?

  2. Vikki says:

    Made these last night to add to Christmas baking list. I baked them for 20 mins and a toothpick came out clean. They appeared to be done from top view, but when I went to invert the middle was not set. 🙁 Then had trouble transferring back onto the jelly roll pan, so I wound up cutting into pieces and placing back on jelly roll pan. Baked another 15-20 minutes. Then tried to cut into small squares and assemble from there. Not at pretty as I had hoped, but had a nice taste. I found them to be a little too greasy. I wonder if you could reduce to one stick of butter?

  3. stephanie says:

    You used semi-sweet and not dark chocolate? These look perfect for my neighbor who just had foot surgery! Thanks Mel!

  4. Katie says:

    Makes sense…thanks!

  5. Katie says:

    These look yummy and I have some ganache I’d like to use up. Only problem is that my jelly roll pans are more like 12 x 17…do you think that will make the cookie too thin? I could just spread the ganche a bit thinner to make it more proportionate maybe…what do you think?? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katie – it has been so long since I’ve made these so the recipe isn’t fresh in my brain but I would probably just use a foil barrier to make your larger jelly roll pans fit the size in the recipe (I just fold foil to a thick layer and put it inside the pan to create a fake “edge” and then smooth the batter into the smaller space). Does that make sense?

  6. Georgia says:

    These were good. Not great, nothing spectacular, but good. Mine didn’t really turn into a brown sugar bar, more just a cake, with chocolate ganache as frosting ): Any ideas?

    • Mel says:

      Georgia – these bars definitely aren’t cakey – at least when I make them. They are dense and chewy. I’m not sure why they would have turned out more cake-like for you. Sorry!

  7. Mel says:

    Alexis – I haven’t frozen these bars but imagine they would probably fare just fine being frozen.

  8. Alexis O'Connell says:

    Have you ever frozen these?

  9. Jnl2211 says:

    I made these today…! They’re so so good! My husband exclaimed that they’re like the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, only better because the chocolate is smooth and creamy! He said “whenever you can’t think of something to bake, MAKE THESE!”. Thanks Mel for another great recipe. Also, I didn’t use parchment or aluminum foil, just “Pam for baking” and it worked beautifully.

  10. […] Brown Sugar Bars Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  11. Alexandra says:

    Yep, just made these. Quite delicious! I didn’t have a pan of that size so I just used a 9×13 one. So they were a bit chunkier than I would have liked, but still delicious. I would really recommend not over mixing the batter. My butter wasn’t totally softened, so I really had to mix tirelessly to get the clumps out and I think this caused the brown sugar bar to verge on a cake like texture. With my size pan, I managed to cut the bars into about 24 two bite pieces. Yummy, rich recipe, and I can definetly see myself making it again with different variations.

  12. Melanie, would it work to use a silpat instead of waxed paper?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Andrea – yes, I think a silpat would work just as well as long as you have a silpat to fit the jelly roll-size pan. My silpats are too big (they fit the 12X18-inch pans) but if you have a smaller silpat it should work just fine in this recipe!

  13. Melanie says:

    Jenn – glad these turned out ok for you. I’m glad you liked the brown sugar layer as much as I did!

  14. Melanie says:

    Thanks Stefanue!

  15. Shauna says:

    Will chocolate chips work for the chocolate in this recipe? Thanks!

  16. Melanie says:

    Shauna – in general, chocolate chips don’t melt quite as smoothly as chopped chocolate but I have used them many times in ganache with good results so I would say yes, you could sub chocolate chips.

  17. Jenn says:

    Made these today for some friends. They turned out pretty well. I think I should have left them in the oven a little longer because mine were very, very dense like a little underdone dense.

    Anyway–the brown sugar bar is delicious. So good it could be eaten alone.

  18. Melanie says:

    Dixie, you crack me up. I know you pretty well and I know you don’t like to branch out with new recipes too often so I am really glad you tried these bars…and especially glad that Olivia reinforced how delicious they turned out to be! Don’t worry, my backside is pretty much beyond help so I’d like yours to join me, too.

  19. Dixiechick says:

    Shame on you for introducing me to this recipe. It’s been bad news to my backside, that’s for sure! I was a little nervous to make them because that’s how I roll…if I haven’t done it before, I’m scared and I’m always afraid of failure. Shane laughed at me because I just kept sitting there looking at the recipe, nervous to start. But I did. Your directions were perfect and they turned out so good that I can’t stop eating them. Livy didn’t know that I had made them and Shane put one in her lunch today. She came home and said, “I want to tell whoever made us those yummy treats thank you.” I told her it was me and she was a little surprised. I pretty much ONLY make this one kind of cookie, so I’ve totally thrown her off. So thanks, I’ve even impressed my 6 year old!

  20. Stacie Aho says:

    Oh my goodness… that makes much more sense. I don’t know why I thought when you said “crosswise” I thought through the whole thing. I’m a doof!

  21. Melanie says:

    Stacie – ugh! I’m so bummed these didn’t really WOW you! I’m glad the taste was delicious but I wish they would have worked out better. One thing I noticed from your comment, and perhaps I should be more clear in the recipe, is that the bars should be cut in half through the top – basically meaning take a knife and cut the bars in half like you would a sandwich that you are cutting in half to share. They are definitely too thin to cut in half like you would a cake you are splitting into two layers. Does that make sense??

  22. Stacie Aho says:

    I was so excited to make these! They looked like a perfect dessert in my book. I had some problems. I cooked them in a jelly roll, but the dough was really thin- like to thin to cut in half. I tried, but failed. I followed all the directions. Could it be that we are in UT so I should have added more flour? The dough was still pretty stiff… but maybe it was supposed to be more so? And also, there is no leavening agent… I’m guessing that is how it’s supposed to be, but I just kept thinking, why aren’t these thicker? We ended up just frosting them on the top and they were still DELICIOUS. I could have eaten them all night. It was just that the presentation wasn’t as beautiful as yours.


  23. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – I feel really lame for having such a blaring error on pan size in this recipe. Sorry about that. I’m glad that they still tasted great, though. Thanks for letting me know!

  24. Melanie says:

    Hayley – yes, these bars are pretty sticky which is why it is really important to use some type of barrier on the pan, like wax paper. However, if you have had problems with it smoking in the oven, try using parchment paper. It definitely won’t do that. And don’t feel like a nerd! It’s a valid question. My question back to you is if the wax paper is smoking even when it is underneath a cake or brownies or does it smoke if it is exposed to the direct heat (like hanging off the edge of the pan)? I only ever use wax paper in the oven if it is completely covered by the batter. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  25. Dixiechick says:

    gonna try these. i’m excited. my christmas delivery plates have just gotten better. 🙂

  26. Anonymous says:

    We made these last night, and they are amazing. They have entered our top 5 favorite desert list, hands down. We didn’t have wax paper, but aluminum foil (greased and floured) worked fine. Also, we made the same mistake with the 11×5 pan as others. We didn’t know what you meant, so we used the closest thing we have – an 11×7 pan. However, they were thick so we just cut them in half width wise rather than length wise and ended up with basically the same result as using an 11×15 pan. Really, truly, amazing bars.

  27. Hayley says:

    I made these the other night (using a jelly roll pan) and we loved them. But I couldn’t get them out of the pan in one piece. I know you said to use wax paper, but when I’ve used wax paper, it always starts smoking in the oven, and smells like a candle is melting. (I’m blushing admitting this). I ended up pooring the chocolate on top, and just eating them that way. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong with wax paper?? I’m such a nerd!

  28. Melanie says:

    Smiths – ok, my brain is FRIED and I feel terrible after reading your comment because it was a typo in the recipe. The jelly roll pan size is 10X15 inches. What size pan did you end up using? I’m glad you liked the finished product, despite the wrong pan size in the recipe!

  29. Anonymous says:

    We made these tonight, and you are right – the brown sugar brownie is amazing, and as a die-hard-dark-choclate fan, I loved the ganache. We didn’t have dark brown sugar handy, so we added mollasses to regular brown sugar. Our only question regards the “Jelly Roll” pan. What is a jelly roll pan? 11×5 seemed too small to make 35 bars. Do you mean 11×15 (cookie sheet size?). Thanks. The Smiths.

  30. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – yes, heavy whipping cream is the same (at least in my recipes) as heavy whipping cream. Sorry for the confusion!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I am having trouble finding heavy cream. You aren’t talking about heavy whipping cream are you? Is there anything I can substitute? Thanks. Appreciate all your recipes.

  32. Melanie says:

    Cammee – I’ll try to pretend you don’t like chocolate. 🙂 My advice would be to just make the brown sugar bar and enjoy that. Bake it in a smaller pan so the layer is thicker and it would be a treat unto itself (especially with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream).

  33. Katy ~ says:

    Oh my. I’m starting to appreciate bar cookies again, and this looks fabulous for the chocolate lovers in my life.

  34. ARLENE says:

    OK, forget the devil drops. Now I want one of these!!! Brown sugar and dark chocolate–it’s like PB&J. Wow! You are really rocking those cookies. As someone else said, I’d have to bake nonstop until 2011 to fit in all the great cookie recipes I’ve found…and what about old favorites?

  35. Becky says:

    Every dessert you make, looks soo yummy!

  36. Cammee says:

    So I REALLY want to eat that brown sugar layer, but (deep breath), I don’t like chocolate. I know. My kids already told me I’m a freak. So what could I pair with the lovely brown sugar bar? I can’t miss out on that!

  37. nicole says:

    Thanks for bringing me back to the food blog world. I have been trying your recipes this week and they have all been SO GOOD. Thanks again.

  38. RecipeGirl says:

    I’m not surprised these were a “speechless” kind of bar. My Mom makes these wonderful cookies every Christmas, which sounds very similar. Will have to try these. YUM!

  39. grace says:

    i love layered goodies, but i think these are really the first i’ve seen that look soft! it seems like in order to get defined layers, they have to be hard. this is clearly a keeper–thanks!

  40. Melanie says:

    Hi Jodi – I edited the recipe to be more clear – I didn’t have a 10 by 5 inch pan so I used a jelly roll size pan. Hope that helps!

  41. Jelli Bean says:

    I love these cookie posts. The sad thing is that I already have a to-bake list that will probably take me into 2011 already. Thanks for sharing.

  42. megan says:

    oh wow, these look amazing. something i’ve never seen before! I want to make them 🙂

  43. Jodi says:

    Looks like a very decadent recipe. One question: is the 10 x 5-inch baking sheet a loaf pan?


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