Best Brownies + Hazelnuts

While “busy” is usually the default setting, some weeks are just busier than others.  An especially busy week, for example, might be one in which you work extra hours at your first job, start a second job, paint two rooms in your apartment with a team of family, host both parents overnight on separate nights, catch a TIFF film, celebrate your birthday, and almost make it home after work before you remember you have night class and have to turn around.  Especially busy but also especially awesome, because this past week was full of things and people I love.  Which makes it a great time to talk about these brownies, which are My Favourite Brownies, and also My Favourite Chocolate Dessert Of All Time.

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These brownies are special occasion food.  If it’s a wedding shower or a new-decade birthday, I bring these brownies.  They’re dense with chocolate, they melt in your mouth like good flourless chocolate cake, and they leave a girl satisfied.  They aren’t as sweet as the chocolate raisin brownies, as airy as the salty fudgy chile brownies or as heavy as the raspberry cream cheese brownies – they’re my Just Right.  So when I thought I’d try to recreate the chocolate hazelnut brownies I had with Liz at Ottolenghi this summer, I knew this would be my base recipe.  It was a good call. Best brownies + hazelnuts = delicious.

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NOTES: Probably because it is so good, this recipe is all over the internet as “Baked Brownies.” Clearly other people share my good taste.  You might also encounter a fabulous spiced version that calls for 1-1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp cardamom that are stirred into the flour mixture at the very beginning.  SO GOOD.  And let’s say you don’t have quite 11 oz dark chocolate in your cupboard, or want to mitigate the cost a bit (dark chocolate is a splurge): sub in some semi-sweet instead.  This batch was 6 oz dark chocolate, 5 oz semi-sweet, and I had no complaints at all.

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Best Brownies + Hazelnuts

adapted slightly from the internet (this recipe is everywhere!)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
11 oz dark chocolate (or a combination of dark and semi-sweet), chopped
1 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1/3 cup Nutella (optional)
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup whole hazelnuts (optional)

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1.  If using the hazelnuts, place them on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from the oven, let them cool, and rub off any loose flakes. Set the hazelnuts aside.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa.  Set aside.

3.  In a double boiler over simmering water, place chopped chocolate, butter, instant coffee powder, and Nutella (if using).  Let melt, stirring occasionally until smooth and combined.  Turn off heat but do not remove from stove.  Add both sugars to the chocolate mixture, and whisk until combined.  Remove from heat.

4.  Add the following ingredients, whisking until just combined after each addition: three eggs; two eggs; vanilla. Stir in flour mixture; fold in hazelnuts (if using).

5.  Pour the batter into a 9×13 inch baking pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Rotate pan and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out with small crumbs.  Cool completely before slicing.

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