Outrageous Bars of Mocha Toffee Hazelnut Goodness!

Brownie batter swirly goodness

The hubby and I are leaving early in the morning to visit his mom, stepdad, and family friends of their generation (along with his step-brother and -sister) in Bryan, Texas, about an hour and a half north of Houston.

Today was a cruddy day before 3 PM; I was officially on Paid Time Off, but had to go to work for over an hour to complete unpleasant, but necessary, managerial tasks before my weekend away from the store.

Tomorrow we are going to spend a couple of days with friends of the hubby’s family from way back.  For the most part, they are 60ish ladies who like to drink, eat, laugh, and tell slightly-raunchy stories…at least, that’s what I’m told.  I haven’t met them yet.  I can’t wait!!!

The weekend sounds like it will be a ton of fun.  The hub was quite insistent that his mom has been planning meals for weeks and I shouldn’t offer to cook anything, as it would throw off her carefully-planned menu for the weekend.  I can understand that; having houseguests, or accepting responsibility for the care and feeding of someone else’s houseguests, is an onerous and stressful thing.  One must learn and bend to any culinary whims, allergies, or prejudices of one’s guests, while planning food that will satisfy and please the bulk of the assembled host.  I am not envious of the post, having filled it more than once myself.

But I seem to be constitutionally incapable of showing up with a bottle of wine, a grocery-store 3-stalk bamboo plant, and a ‘thanks for having us!’ for the overworked, underappreciated hostess.  They all know that I cook…and while a meal might not be appreciated, I have to do something!!

So…I made brownies.  We’re also taking a bottle of wine, of course…but this is the homemade, heartfelt contribution to the weekend’s festivities.

I’ve made these brownies once before…but they turned into Bayou Goo due to undercooking and the extreme gooeyness of the middle of the brownies.  Proceed with a fork, 2 napkins, and caution. 

The recipe (originally courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, modified as usual):

Ingredients:

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 (okay, I used 4!) tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons (or more!) pure vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla)
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups toasted, peeled chopped hazelnuts ( if you need to, Google ‘how to toast hazelnuts’ and find instructions. very important step!  I sprinkled them liberally with Kosher salt after toasting & peeling; I love salty/sweet stuff!)
1 cup Nutella
12 ounces Heath toffee crumbles
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips, I used a milk chocolate/white chocolate swirl

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour baking pan(s); I used a 12 x 8 inch and a 9 inch square pan; original recipe calls for one 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet.
Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium (metal) bowl over simmering water.  Allow to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss half the toasted, chopped hazelnuts,  6 ounces of toffee crumbles, and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. 

Pour into the baking pan(s).  Best results are achieved when batter is less than 3/4″ deep.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking pan(s) against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the largest pan.  Do not overbake!  Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

Once brownies are cooled:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together the remaining 6 ounces of toffee sprinkles, 12 ounces of mini-chocolate chips (I used white & milk chocolate swirled), and the rest of the toasted hazelnuts, with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt.

Completed brownie pans!

Spread each of the brownies with 1 tablespoon of Nutella.  Sprinkle generously with the topping mixture.  Place the brownies on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until the chocolate is starting to melt.  Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and allow to cool until the chocolate hardens, about one hour.

Watch your audience melt while tasting.  Provide forks & extra napkins; this stuff is messy!!

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