Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Melt the butter with the cocoa powder, sugar and espresso powder in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk the heavy cream and egg in a small bowl. Whisk in a few tablespoons of the butter-cocoa mixture, then pour into the saucepan. Cook, whisking, until combined and thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds and vanilla bean paste. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely in the pan.
Make the filling: Pulse half of the freeze-dried strawberries (about 1 cup) in a food processor until slightly powdery with a few pieces remaining. Set aside the remaining strawberries for topping.
Put the white chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over the white chocolate chips. Let sit until softened, 3 to 5 minutes; stir until smooth. (If the chips are not fully melted, microwave in 20-second intervals until smooth.) Stir in the strawberry powder. Spread over the cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
Make the topping: Microwave the semisweet chocolate chips with the shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Spread evenly over the filling. Gently crush the reserved freeze-dried strawberries and sprinkle over the top. Cover and refrigerate until set. Lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang and cut into bars.
Freeze-dried strawberries have a ton of flavor. You just have to make sure you don?t pulverize them into too fine a powder; you want to be able to see the nice red flecks.
Photograph by Andrew Purcell
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