Nutella: My New Love Affair

I’m embarrassed to admit this but I have only recently discovered the joys of nutella.  I don’t know where I have been for the past 25 years.  Living in some world devoid of the wonderfulness that is nutella, aka, Hawaii.  Not saying that Hawaii doesn’t have nutella, just that I was never exposed to it.  But now that I have, I have been trying to come across recipes that takes full advantage of its creamy, chocolate, hazelnutty goodness.  I have slathered it between crepes and added in some bananas and strawberries.  I have swirled it with my ice cream to add an extra layer of sin.  And I have even combined it with my oatmeal just because I could.  But I wanted more.  So I decided to do some research and came across this site: Nutella Recipes.  Besides learning that World Nutella Day is Feb. 5th, I came across a whole library of recipes at my disposal.  So naturally, I chose the recipe that would make my sweet tooth squeal with excitement: Nutella Ganache Brownies w/ Peanut Butter Cream!

And it was the peanut butter cream that pulled me into the recipe…and it was the peanut butter cream that made my taste buds dance with delight.

I mean look at this…my mouth is already watering as my tongue is trying to get a taste off of the roof of my mouth.

And while there seems to be a lot to this recipe, it was surprisingly easy to make.  Just a lot of layers…like an onion…or a parfait.

Brownies
1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Nutella

First, preheat the oven 350 degrees F and butter AND flour a 9 x 9 baking pan.  I like to use Pam cooking spray.  Melt the butter and add sugars and combine well.  Next add eggs and vanilla and beat.  You can combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder separately or add them in one at time into you bowl.  It reeeaaaaally doesn’t matter.  Fold in the nutella and pour into baking pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  I checked in on mine about 25 minutes and took it 10 minutes after that.  Let cool.

My brownies came out gooey and chewy.  Just the way I like it.

Nutella Ganache
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used organic heavy cream)
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Nutella

While brownies are cooling you will want to prepare the ganache so it has time to cool while you prepare the peanut butter cream.  The easiest and best way to make a ganache is to boil the cream then pour it over the chocolate and nutella.  You will want to make sure that the nutella is broken into small, finely chopped pieces so it melts easier.

Set aside to let cool.  You may want to set it far away from you, or even hide it, to refrain from taking secret swipes.

Peanut Butter Cream

1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons hot water

Combine all ingredients except water and beat.  I used an electric stand mixer (the one I asked Santa for Christmas).  Add the hot water to make creamy consistency.

Soooooo good!

By now the brownies and ganache should be ready as long as you didn’t eat all of it before assembly.  The recipe called for me to take the brownies out of the pan and flip them over so that you could work with the flat, bottom side of the brownie.  A) I didn’t have an extra plate big enough to work on and B) I was too lazy, so I left the brownies in the baking pan.  Pour and spread the peanut butter cream over the brownies covering entire surface.  You will want to work smoothly and gently because if you spread to hard you may end up damaging your brownie surface.  After cream is spread evenly, pour ganache over the peanut butter cream.  Once again spread evenly and let sit for an hour at room temperature to let these three new neighbors get well acquainted.  Trust me, as bad as you want to dig in right then and there, it will be a lot easier to cut the brownies once the ganache has set.

Finally, after what has probably been the longest hour of your life, get a knife and paper towel.  Cut the brownies into desired amount.  Make sure to clean the knife after every line so that you get nice, clean cuts.

See how nice and clean.  Let’s see how long these will last you.  I gave away 2 to one friend and 3 to another.  The rest lasted me the entire weekend.  And yes that meant I ate 11 brownies by myself.  And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  =)

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The Perfect Pizza Sauce

Several years ago I got the Top Chef: The Cookbook recipe book for Christmas.  Out of all the recipes, the one that stood out and beckoned for me to try immediately was the Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza.  I have fooled around and experimented with many different toppings, BBQ Chicken, Margherita, Pesto, etc, but the it is the sauce that remained the constant.  I have used this recipe as the inspiration for my own pizza sauce recipe that can be used for many things.  I’ve used it as a dipping sauce for bread, sauce for my chicken parmesan, and of course, as pizza sauce.

Here is the recipe:

garlic

shallots

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium can tomato sauce

1 small can tomato paste

1/4-1/2 C red wine

1/4 C sugar

1/3 C basil

red pepper flakes, pepper, and salt (garlic salt) to taste

 

1.  Mince the garlic and chop the shallots and add along with olive oil to medium size pot.  Saute until shallots are translucent and you can smell the garlic.

2.  Pour in can of tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Add wine and sugar.  Stir.

3.  Add in chopped basil, pepper flakes, pepper, and salt.  Keep stirring.

4.  Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally so that sauce doesn’t burn.  *Careful because sauce will tend to boil and pop and fly out.  I recommend using a big pot.

 

And that’s how I make my pizza sauce.  I’ve also tried using different crusts and doughs, like the regular or thin crust you can buy in stores.  However, recently I discovered a great substitution for a thin crust.  Are you ready for this……Tortillas!  Yup, that Mexican little marvel.

I set my oven to 400 and inserted my pizza stone…my William Sonoma Pizza Stone :P  I drizzled some EVOO and sprinkled some pepper and salt on the tortilla.  I spread the sauce over the tortilla.  Not too much since the tortilla is thin and I do not want it to be moist and break.  I generously spread out some fresh mozzarella and baked it on the stone for about 10-12 minutes.  When it was done I sprinkled some fresh chopped basil and voila!

It tasted as good as it looked.  And the crust was crispy.

Feel free to use this sauce recipe and let me know what adventurous toppings you like on your pizza.

:D

 

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Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies w/ Chai Glaze

I wanted my first actual post to be a recipe that I have never tried before.  At my previous residence, one of my roommate’s girlfriend made some oatmeal cookies with cinnamon icing.  I tried one and fell in love.  She said it was one of those ready-made-all-you-need-to-do-is-bake kinda thing.  I ended up eating about 90% of the cookies that night…fact.  I’ve never made oatmeal cookies so I tried looking in stores for them but never found them.  Since I always bake chocolate chip cookies I figured why not try my hands at oatmeal cookies.  I came across this recipe Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing and decided to make it my own by substituting Chai mix for coffee.  It’s pretty sublime if I do say so myself.

Follow the recipe for the cookie.  They came out chewy, moist, and dare I say perfect.  Take a look for yourself:

I followed the icing recipe exactly and only substituted one scoop of Chai mix and 2 T skim milk for the coffee.  I used Trader Joe’s Chai mix.  Here’s a picture of my icing in its ribbon-like consistency.  In culinary terms that would be nape (pronounced na-peh).

I had to bake it at 350 for 12 minutes, unlike the 6-8 minutes that the recipe called for.  And they turned out like this…

So divine!  A little on the sweet side, but nothing a glass of ice-cold skim milk couldn’t wash down.  I hope you enjoy!  I for sure did.

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I’m baaaack…

Hello all!

This is my new attempt at maintaining a blog.  I made a New Year’s resolution to create and upkeep a new blog and since well now how well New Year’s Resolutions are kept let’s see how long I can last.  If anything, maybe I’ll finally get to working out more.  :P

This first post is just an intro into what I intend this blog to be.  Basically, I intend to use this blog as an outlet to launch my freelance food photography career, my freelance restaurant critiquing career, and a means of collecting my recipes for my upcoming yet-to-be-named food recipe book.  If I had to put a number to it (for all you mathematicians….and asians) this blog will be about 40% photos, 35% recipes, and 25% critiques.  Imagine that pie chart.

If you would like to learn a little about me, click in the “About Me” section…duh.  Other than that, sit back, relax, and I hope you will enjoy what I put on your plate.  :D

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