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A stack of shortbread brownies with ganache.

High Altitude Brownie Shortbread Bars with Ganache

Heather Smoke
These brownie shortbread bars have a buttery, shortbread cookie layer, thick fudgy brownies, and rich dark chocolate ganache.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Cooling Time 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 8 inch baking pan
  • Saucepan


Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, diced


  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • cup unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1-2 tsp instant espresso powder, optional


  • 4 oz good-quality dark chocolate (around 55-60% cacao)
  • 4 oz heavy whipping cream


Shortbread Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 inch square baking dish with two sheets of parchment paper, so that they completely line the bottom and sides of the pan. Crease the paper at the top edges of the pan to help keep it in place.
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until well incorporated, and the crumbs are moist and crumbly.
    Tip: This step is also really easy to do with a food processor. Just pulse all the ingredients until you have fine, moist crumbs.
  • Dump the dough crumbs into the prepared pan. Spread out evenly in the pan, then use your hands to press the crumbs down firmly against the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake the crust on the center oven rack for 15 minutes, until pale golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.


  • While the crust is baking, you can start on the brownie batter. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and sugar over medium heat.  Once it begins to bubble, cook for two minutes.  Remove from the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla until melted and shiny; the mixture will be grainy.  Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture comes together into a smooth batter.
  • In a bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt and espresso powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until no dry streaks remain.  The batter will be thick but spreadable.
  • Spread the brownie batter evenly over the baked shortbread crust.
  • Bake at 325 F on the center oven rack for exactly 25 minutes – don’t over-bake!  The brownies will be browned and crackled on top and slightly puffed.  Cool the brownies completely.


  • Finely chop the chocolate and scrape it into a bowl.
    Tip: Reserve 1-2 teaspoons of the chopped chocolate to sprinkle on top of the brownies for a pretty finish.
  • Measure the cream into a saucepan, and warm the cream over medium heat, just until hot and it begins to simmer around the edges. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate.
  • Stir the ganache until the chocolate is melted, smooth and shiny. Spread the ganache over the cooled brownies, using a knife or small offset spatula to swirl it around.
  • Let the ganache set and firm up for about an hour. If you like, sprinkle the top with the reserved chopped chocolate.
  • To cut the brownies into clean slices, lift the brownies out of the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment paper and lifting the whole slab onto a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the brownies, wiping the knife clean in between each cut.


Store leftover brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Keyword Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Ganache, Shortbread
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