What makes this brownie a quadruple threat? Let's start with the Nutella, which is known as "the original hazelnut spread" for good reason. Copycats pale in comparison to this dreamy, hazelnut-infused cocoa creaminess. Next is Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur), that really pumps up the nutty flavor volume of the Nutella. But what about texture? Hazelnuts are known for their crunchiness, and I always like to have some kind of nut in my brownies to contrast with the chocolaty/chewy/fudgy factor. Then there's the Ferrero Rocher chocolates (made by the same people who make Nutella). These chocolates have it all going on: a whole roasted hazelnut encased in a crispy, thin wafer shell filled with hazelnut cream (aka: Nutella) covered in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. Gets me weak in the knees just thinking about it! When you combine these four magical ingredients with the makings for a decadently thick and fudgy brownie, what results is something that just has to be tried to be believed!
Step 1: Ingredients/Procedure
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (chopped)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter (sliced into pieces)
1/2 cup Nutella
3 large eggs / 1 egg yolk
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp Frangelico liqueur
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
16 Ferrero Rocher chocolates (unwrapped)
Gold sheen sanding sugar (optional)
•Preheat oven to 350°F.
•Line an 8×8-inch square-edge baking pan with foil (that has been sized for an overhang on two sides) and spray with cooking spray.
•Combine the two chocolates with butter pieces in a large, microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Continue microwaving the mixture in 30-second bursts (stirring between each burst), until the mixture is melted and smooth. Be careful not to burn the chocolate! Remove from the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the Nutella.
•Using a large bowl and an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar on medium-high speed until light and thick (about 2-3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract and Frangelico. Stir in the cooled chocolate/Nutella mixture with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
•In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Fold into the chocolate mixture until combined.
•Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the top of the batter until evenly flat, then sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on top (pressing them in lightly).
•Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs still attached). Do not over bake! (It is always preferable to under bake brownies to achieve a chewy, fudgy texture.)
•Allow the brownies to cool for about 5 minutes, then slightly press the Ferrero Rocher chocolates into 16 evenly-centered spaces. The chocolates will begin to glisten as they slightly melt (but never lose their spherical shapes). Now is the perfect time to "gild the lilies" with the gold sanding sugar by liberally sprinkling it over the tops of the warmed chocolates. (Totally an optional step - but it really upped the wow factor for presentation purposes. It shows up better in person than in my photos, btw.)
•Once the brownies have cooled for at least an hour, carefully lift them out of the pan with the foil overhangs and place on cutting board. Cut into 16 squares using a long, sharp knife. I find using my cleaver makes the best and most even cuts without much surface crumbling. Just press down the cleaver (applying even pressure) making one, long cut. Also makes it easier to achieve equally sized brownies.
Step 2: Gift Idea
These brownies make a great gift for any chocolate-lover. I plated these with chocolate bark candy and cookies that I also made and tied it all up with cellophane and ribbon for gifts this past Christmas. I'm sure your chocolate/Nutella lover would swoon over a box of these on Valentine's Day, too!