If anyone opened a certain cupboard in my kitchen they might think I have a little obsession with Nutella. And they might be right. So far I almost can’t think of anything that isn’t improved with a dash or two of Nutella.
But it has to be subtle. I am not a big fan of Nutella over-the-top confections. I like the flavor, but I also want the other ingredients to shine. Like chocolate.
These Nutella and cocoa brownies are pretty easy to make, and are probably best cut into small pieces because they’re very dense and kind of taste like fudge. A little bite goes a long way. Ok, two little bites go a long way.
The trick to these is to rapid-ice-chill them immediately out of the oven (from Alice Medrich’s book Cookie & Brownies – no longer in print). I do this one of two ways and either works just fine. Sometimes when there isn’t any space in the freezer I fill a shallow pan with ice cubes and a little water, creating an ice bath a few minutes in advance of the brownies coming out of the oven. I place the pan directly from the oven right into the ice bath being very careful not to splash water on the goodies. I add more ice cubes tucking them around the hot pan but never up high enough to risk any overflow into the brownies.
The other way to do this is to put a cooling rack on a shelf in the freezer a few minutes before the brownies are finished baking. When they are done, pop them directly into the freezer on the cooling rack. The cooling rack is necessary because you don’t want to stick a hot pan on plastic freezer shelving if you have a cheap-o freezer like mine. I add a sheet of foil to the top just in case a rogue ice-cube comes flying out of the ice maker and to avoid anything hitting the brownies. It’s just a piece of foil slid right on top but not sealing the brownies.
Wait until the brownie pan is icy cold and there you have it – brownies transformed into dense fudge bites.
Using a mix of dark cocoa and regular cocoa (unsweetened, right?) makes them never come out looking slightly anemic. Hershey’s Dark Cocoa is a very decent product and reasonably priced. There’s no mistaking it for almost chocolate like some other cocoa products. The mini chocolate chips help create the dense fudge-like appearance and flavor of the bar. Don’t leave them out.
Brownies are comfort food in my house. I probably was weaned on brownies because my mother baked a pan for every new neighbor – think welcome wagon before it had a name. She made them extra special pristine by cutting off the crust edges which were both crunchy and chewy and became our favorite part of the brownie. Imagine four kids lining up for a crust edge. Good thing that square pan had four sides or I’d have needed years more therapy (as the youngest I always was last in line).
Chocolate. It’s my favorite food group.
|Chocolate Nutella Brownies||
- 330 grams Nutella (1 heaping cup)
- 150 grams granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 3 extra large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon brewed coffee (decaf is fine)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 75 grams Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa, sifted (3/4 cup)
- 25 grams Hershey’s unsweetened dark cocoa, sifted (1/4 cup)
- 95 grams Canteen flour blend (3/4 cup) (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon Rum or Kahlua (optional)
- 98 grams semisweet mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 8-inch metal pan with foil. Make room in the freezer for the very hot pan (I put a cooling rack on an empty freezer shelf).
- In a large bowl blend together Nutella, sugar eggs, vanilla, coffee, and salt until well combined. Be sure to stir from the bottom of the bowl to make sure the Nutella is fully mixed in. Sift the cocoa over the mixture. Stir gently to combine to avoid blowing loose cocoa all over the room. Add flour and stir making certain no dry matter remains. Add Rum or Kahlua, if using. Stir in chocolate chips. The batter will be very stiff and somewhat hard to stir at this point.
- Scrape into the foil lined pan. Using a small offset spatula dipped continuously in hot water, level the batter and push it evenly into the pan. Keep using the hot water on the spatula and smooth out the top of the batter. You can use a clean finger dipped in hot water to smooth the top, too. Rap pan on the counter a few times to make sure no air bubbles or air pockets have formed.
- Bake 27 minutes, exactly. The top will be dark and a little crackly and center will look slightly less done than the edges. Place the pan directly from the oven into the prepared space in the freezer. Cover pan loosely by sliding a piece of foil over the top but don’t try to seal the edges. Let it rest in the freezer for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from the freezer. Lift brownie using the foil lining out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Remove the foil liner from the brownie and turn it right side up on the board. Slice into 16 bars. If you want to make brownie-bites, cut those 16 bars in half, making 32 one bite brownies treats.
- Note: If you don’t have room in the freezer, you can set lots of ice cubes in a larger roasting pan with a little water and set the hot pan in that taking care not to splash water onto the brownies. Let it sit until the entire pan feels ice-cold, replenishing ice cubes as needed.