Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting


 
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.
Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.

What are your feelings on Valentines day? Do you love? Do you hate? Do you think its kinda a load of shite but jump at any opportunity to use heart shaped stuff and make everything pink? The last one is me. I often use it as an excuse to go somewhere yum for dinner (except we go the day before and call it ualentines day) but on the actual day my preferred activity is staying inside. 

I am all about the pink food and heart shaped sprinkles though, and figured it would be rude not to share this recipe for hazelnut brownie bites with you too, because they are perfect for loading up with all the sprinkles. Granted, they are probably a few bites each, but still so good.

These came about after Jill gave me the Dandelion Chocolate book for Christmas. In there is a recipe for homemade chocolate hazelnut spread. I've already made it twice, it's SO GOOD. The first time I made it I totally burnt out my food processor, but these things happen when you consistently use a 9 cup food processor like it's a commercial size. Don't do it. Or get a new food processor. I did. Anyway, because I doubled the recipe, even after I had spooned a lot of it into my mouth, I decided I should probably find something to put it in. 

The brownie part of this recipe is based on my very fave brownie recipe, which is from Sarah Kieffer's book. I dialed back the proportions a little to make it fit into my mini cheesecake pan, and then in place of some of the melted chocolate, I added the hazelnut spread. It makes them a touch fudgier, and the hazelnut flavour elevates the chocolate a little more. I then decided that I might as well double up on the chocolate hazelnut situation I already had, so swapped the chocolate out for more hazelnut spread in Thalia's Chocolate frosting. Then I loaded them up with some heart sprinkles. Because, Valentines day. Make these for someone you kinda like. It's roses and chocolate all in one go.

A few wee tips:

  • I have included a double batch quantity of the chocolate hazelnut spread, because if you're making the effort, you're going to want to have extra. Trust me on that one. It's great to spread on things, add to things, put in your mouth, etc. We made a version of my swedish cinnamon rolls with it the other day and OH GOODNESS I can't wait to share the recipe for those with you either. 
  • I made these in a mini cheesecake pan, which is super fun because each individual brownie pops out. You could make it in a greased and lined 8" or 9" square pan, or it would work with mini cupcake or regular cupcake pans too - just make sure to adjust bake time accordingly. 
 

 

Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting

- Makes 12 -

Chocolate Hazelnut spread from Dandelion Chocolate, Brownies adapted from Sarah Kieffer, Chocolate frosting from Butter and Brioche via The Brick Kitchen

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
280g (2 cups) raw hazelnuts
424g (3/4 cup) melted dark chocolate (at least 70%)
200g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Hazelnut Brownie Bites
60g (4 Tbsp) Unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, chopped
180g Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
2 Tbsp Cocoa
80g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) neutral oil
135g (2/3 cup) sugar
38g (3 Tbsp) brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
260g unsalted butter, at room temp
200g powdered sugar / icing sugar, sifted
60g dutch cocoa, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
250g chocolate hazelnut frosting
1-2 Tbsp cream, only if needed to thin the frosting (I didn't need)

Sprinkles to decorate, if desired 

- PROCESS -

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven, shaking occasionally, for 8-10 mins, checking often, until the are golden brown. Allow to cool completely, then rub between your hands to remove the skins. Do not worry about any stubborn skins. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse briefly to chop. 

Add the melted dark chocolate, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine, then mix on high speed for at least five minutes. Check, and give more time mixing if needed. Transfer to a container and store at room temperature until you are ready to use. 

 

HAZELNUT BROWNIE BITES

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease a 12 hole mini cheesecake pan or pan of choice with butter and set aside. 

In a small pan over low heat, combine the butter, chocolate, and hazelnut spread, and warm, stirring often, until everything is melted and combined. Set aside to cool slightly, then sift in the cocoa and mix to combine. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. 

In a medium to large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Whisk to combine. Add the cooled chocolate mixture, and stir well to mix. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined and homogenous. 

Divide the mixture evenly, using a spoon or cookie scoop, between the 12 cavities in the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking for doneness after 25, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 min before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely. 

DARK CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FROSTING

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, 3-4 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla bean paste, and chocolate hazelnut spread, and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice. If needed, add cream 1 tsp at a time to get the frosting to piping consistency. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (I used an ateco 826 tip). 

Pipe rosettes, swirls or blobs on top of each cooled brownie, and decorate with sprinkles if desired. 

Store in an airtight container. 

Hazelnut Brownie Bites with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut frosting. A dozen roses AND chocolate all in one go - you win valentines.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream, and a GIVEAWAY!


 
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.

So. This was meant to be a Macaron post. I was going to write all about how I got this amazing new counter top oven, and I perfected Macarons in it. Well guess what. Macarons continue to be my achilles heel. One day, people. ONE DAY I will nail them. But just not today. 

But what I did nail was this wee cake! I have been meaning to share this recipe with you for the longest time - it's my go to "oh shit someone needs a cake" combination. Three layers of chocolate mud cake, a smooth salted caramel filling, and a vanilla bean german buttercream. I used a gluten free flour in this particular one, just to test if it worked, and you honestly can't tell the difference. I also popped a little mascarpone in the buttercream at the end of the mixing process, and now i'm not sure if I can ever go back to the regular recipe. The mascarpone balances out some of the sweetness, and gives it a lovely tang. This recipe scales amazingly, stacks well (it has made its way into a few wedding cakes in my time!), and keeps perfectly. It is super versatile, and my absolute go to. I made this one a little valentines themed number, but you can finish it off any way you like!

The lovely folks at Wolf Gourmet reached out a while back and very kindly offered to send me this amazing countertop oven. I had seen it around the internet for a while, and was very keen to try it out. I have put it through its paces over the last month, making everything from sweet potato fries to macarons (lol.) to banana bread. And let me tell you now - I am seriously impressed. I am so, so happy that I have been reunited with my one true love, FAN BAKE. I can never decide whether I miss fan bake (convection) or burger fuel aioli the most. And now I guess I can just focus on missing aioli. I can finally get vegetables properly crispy, and things evenly cooked. There's also a proof setting on it, which I can't wait to try! I am always running out of oven space (our current oven is a POS and can only take one thing at a time), so it's going to be insanely handy to have this little pocket rocket as my back up / second oven / probably my first choice around home now too! 

AND! It fits three six inch cake tins. Not only does it fit three six inch cake tins, but the cakes come out baked just as evenly (if not more) than if I were to use a regular oven. So I thought it would only be fair and reasonable if I proved it! 

Also. GUESS WHAT! The team at Wolf Gourmet Have also offered to give away one of these counter top convection ovens! All you have to do is sign up for my updates (theres a little box on the left, or right at the bottom if you're on your phone, that says Subscribe!), and then leave me a comment telling me what your favourite type of cake is! The competition is open until Friday the 16th at 8pm EST, and is open to residents of the 50 states. Good luck!! The winner will be contacted via email.

A few wee tips:

  • If you can, make the salted caramel and the pastry cream for the german buttercream the night before or a few hours before you plan to assemble, to give them time to cool. If you're in a pinch, spread the pastry cream into a shallow tray, place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and pop into the freezer, stirring occasionally. 
  • The cakes benefit with some time to cool too if possible. I like to make them the night before if I can, and then wrap tightly in plastic and place in the fridge or freezer until I am ready to use them.
  • I made this cake with a gluten free flour mix, but it works just the same if you use the same amount of regular flour.
  • The buttercream works the same if you want to omit the mascarpone. 
  • I used a bunch of Ateco french star tips to pipe the blobs on. I have a load of them, and they are super handy! I also use disposable piping bags which makes clean up easy.
  • I added a little transfer gold leaf once the crumb coat had chilled. Again, totally optional :) 
 

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream

- Makes one six inch, three layer cake -

Cake Recipe slightly adapted from Chelsea Sugar

Chocolate Mud Cake
1 1/2 Tbsp (23ml) lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk
375g good quality dark chocolate
3/4 cup (160ml) neutral oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee (can be instant)
3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour, or 1 to 1 gluten free flour substitute
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cocoa
3 eggs

Salted Caramel Filling
1 cup (200g) sugar
6 tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 Tbsp flaky sea salt

Mascarpone German Buttercream
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste, extract, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (255g) sugar
3 Tbsp (24g) corn starch
1 egg
2 egg yolks
Pinch of Salt
3 cups (675g, or 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature. 
225g (8 oz) mascarpone (optional)

Gel food colouring in your choice of colours
Gold Leaf, optional

 

- PROCESS -

CHOCOLATE MUD CAKE
 

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease and line three six inch cake tins.

Mix the milk and lemon juice together, and set aside. 

In a medium pot, combine the chocolate, oil, vanilla and coffee. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder. 

Add the milk mixture to the cooled chocolate mixture along with the eggs, and mix well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until well incorporated. 

Divide the mixture between the three prepared tins. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. 

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from tins and cool completely on a wire rack. Level the cakes off, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.

Salted Caramel
 

Place the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add the cream and stir well. Stir in the salt, and pour into a glass jar. Allow to cool completely.

mascarpone german buttercream
 

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. 

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the Mascarpone and mix to incorporate. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until smooth and silky. 

assembly


Place the first levelled layer on a cake stand or turntable. Top with a generous amount of the german buttercream, and smooth out with an offset spatula, building more buttercream around the sides than in the centre of the cake. Fill the centre with about 1/3 of the cooled salted caramel (this amount may vary depending on preference), and top with the second layer. Repeat the buttercream and caramel process, then top with the third layer. 

Smooth an rough layer of buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula, and smooth using an icing smoother. You can go for a fully covered effect, or leave it semi naked as I did. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. While the cake is chilling, divide the remaining buttercream between four bowls, and colour each various shades of pink using gel food colouring. Transfer each colour to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip. 

Remove the cake from the fridge. Apply gold leaf if desired. Pipe blobs of buttercream randomly all over the cake, arranging as desired. 

Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Store Leftovers in the fridge.

 

Store remaining rolls in an airtight container. Warm slightly in the microwave before serving. 

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Mascarpone German Buttercream. The perfect go-to cake: layers of rich mud cake, smooth salted caramel, and silky german buttercream with a hint of mascarpone.

Thank you so much to Wolf Gourmet for supplying me with this amazing oven, plus another to give away! All opinions are my own. 

Blood Orange Meringue Tarts


 
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue

Hi. Remember me? I'm sorry I've been away for so long. I have had a hard time getting motivated to do anything since the start of the new year. That baking hiatus I said I took? Still kinda on it. We've been sticking to a little routine, but I haven't felt any desire whatsoever to switch the oven on. So I didn't. And it felt good! I've been slowly working my way through a bunch of savory dinner ideas i've had lurking, and working on testing a couple of things (batch 285374 of macarons - anyone know how to deal with wonky feet!?!), but aside from that it's been super quiet around here.

I do however find myself compulsively buying blood oranges. There's currently about 30 in the fruit bowl, and I had to stop myself from buying more this morning at the supermarket. And you can't add them to dinner, so I had to make something with them! 

I love the taste of blood orange, and so wanted to keep it simple. The components for these tarts can be prepared well ahead of time, and assembled just as you a ready to serve. I went with the sweet pastry recipe from Tartine's book, then used it to make little baby tart shells (lining them is kinda fiddly, someone come do it for me?). I used pastry rings (I use these, in the 3 3/8" inch size, but these would work too) because I had seen it done on all the fancy shows. It turned out to be a little more tricky than it looked, but the recipe made loads of dough so I was able to practice a few times before I shot these. If you have tart tins with removable bottoms, they will work well too! 

I then filled the baked shells with cold lemon curd, and topped with a few blobs of swiss meringue. Swiss meringue gets cooked to a safe temp at the water bath phase, so you don't have to worry about raw egg whites. If I wasn't shooting them I probably would have added a couple more blobs of meringue so the whole thing was covered, and you got a little meringue in every bite. You could totally toast it too! 

A few wee tips:

  • The Sweet Tart dough (Pate Sablee) can be a little fiddly to roll out. I found that working it slightly in my hands to warm it before rolling worked best. 
  • I blind baked these using heavy duty plastic wrap and rice. I prefer to use rice as I find it fills the gaps much better than beans do.
  • You can do the tart shells in batches! They keep in an airtight container until you are ready to go.
  • If you would like the tops of the shell to be nice and smooth, you can give them a sneaky file with a microplane.
  • If you can, make the tart dough and the curd the evening before. They both benefit from some time to rest and chill well. Make the meringue just as you are ready to assemble, and pipe on. I used an Ateco 866 tip for these - my fave! 
  • Store leftover components separately, and assemble when ready to serve.
  • If you wanted to make these lemon, you could sub for lemon juice in the curd. 
 

 

Blood Orange Meringue Tarts

- Makes 8-10 mini tarts -

Sweet Tart Dough Recipe from Tartine

Sweet Tart Dough 
255g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temp
200g (1 cup) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 Large eggs, at room temp
500g (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

Blood Orange Curd
1 cup (240ml) blood orange juice
2/3 cup (120g) sugar
8 Tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
8 egg yolks

Swiss Meringue
125g egg whites
190g sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 

- PROCESS -

SWEET TART DOUGH

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, scraping down the bowl well between each addition. Add the flour all in one go, and mix on low until incorporated. 

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly to bring together. Shape the dough into two fat sausages, and wrap tightly in plastic. Rest at least a few hours, but ideally overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare your tart tins or rings (this can be done in a few batches if you don't have enough rings or tins) 

Cut a slice off the sausage of dough. Work lightly with your hands to warm up slightly. Roll out to a circle about 1/8 thick. Line the tart ring, ensuring the dough makes it right into the corners and is straight up the sides. Patch any tears if needed. Trim off any excess - you can keep the scraps to reuse later. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and Repeat with the remaining rings. 

Place the baking sheet with the lined rings in the freezer for 15 minutes, until firm. 

Remove from the freezer, and dock each shell a few times with the tines of a fork. Place a piece of heavy duty plastic wrap in each shell, and fill to the brim with rice, twisting the excess plastic wrap to make a little package. If you do not have heavy duty plastic wrap, parchment paper will work fine too.

Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove the rice and plastic wrap, and bake for a further 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins or rings. Repeat the process if needed to bake additional shells. 

File down the edges with a microplane if they are a little rough. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. 

BLOOD ORANGE CURD

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water. 

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the curd coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a clear line through it with your finger. Strain into a container, and place in the fridge to cool completely. 

SWISS MERINGUE

Measure the egg whites, granulated sugar and vanilla bean paste into the bowl of a stand mixer or other heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often and watching the edges carefully, until it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers, and it registers at least 70˚c / 160˚f on a thermometer. 

Carefully transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, approximately 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip (I used an ateco #866)

ASSEMBLY

Mix the cooled lemon curd with a whisk or immersion blender to ensure that there are no lumps. Fill each tart shell with curd, and smooth with an offset spatula. Pipe blobs of swiss meringue onto each tart. Torch if desired. 

Serve immediately. 

Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue