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
280g (2 cups) raw hazelnuts
424g (1 1/2 cups) 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.