I recently realized that in the 7 months I've had this blog, there have been very few choco-centric posts. Considering that I can't remember the last time I went an entire day without chocolate, this seems both unbelievable and unacceptable. And so, it ends today.
Brownies are the first things I think of when I'm hit with a chocolate craving. More often than not, I can't wait the hour to make them and settle for a quicker fix. This week, I had the time and decided to pay homage to one of my favorite quick fixes - Baci chocolates. For anyone not familiar with them, Baci chocolates have a hazelnut center enveloped by the dreamiest of dark chocolate fillings, all of which is dipped in dark chocolate - more than enough to satisfy a chocolate craving. They also come with a little love note that makes me happy. These brownies replicate the creamy crunchy wonder Baci perfected over 100 years ago. They are also the perfect Valentine's Day treat for your significant other, friends, or just yourself (if you don't feel like sharing).
Hazelnut Brownies with Candied Hazelnuts
(Makes 2 dozen brownies)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs. room temperature
1 tablespoon Frangelico (or other hazelnut liquor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (80%) dark chocolate, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
I cup roasted, halved hazelnuts
1 cup roasted hazelnuts
3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line an 8x13 baking sheet or a 9x13 pan if you like thicker brownies.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the melted butter and sugar together until completely combined.
- Incorporate the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after each new addition.
- On slow speed, add in the Frangelico, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the melted dark chocolate and beat until smooth.
- Using a spatula, fold the flour into the chocolate mixture until almost combined.
- Add the halved hazelnuts and continue folding until just combined.
- Spread the batter out onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. (Baking times will vary based on the pan. Thicker brownies will bake for 30-35 minutes). Cool completely before cutting.
- While the brownies are baking, stir together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- When the mixture begins to boil, stir in the roasted hazelnuts.
- Continue cooking until the sugar turns a rich, auburn color. As you wait for the mixture to brown, place a piece of parchment paper over a baking sheet.
- Remove from heat and add the salt.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the hazelnuts from the saucepan and place on the parchment lines baking sheet.
- Allow to cool before breaking apart.
- After the brownies and candied hazelnuts have cooled, you can begin assembling the brownies.
- Ice a thin layer of nutella atop the brownies and slice into their desired size.
- Top each brownie with 1-2 candied hazelnuts.
- Serve alone, with ice cream, or with an Irish coffee.
*Lifesaving cleaning tip: To clean the saucepan, fill about halfway with water and return to the stove. Allow the water to come to a boil over high heat, effectively boiling out the sugar. Remove from heat and clean as you normally would (in half the time).