I’d like to say I’m lying. I’d like to tell you that it just happened, that it was completely unintentional, and that dipping pretzels in Nutella should totally count as dinner. But the truth is that I’m not lying, it was completely intentional, and yes, as a college student, sometimes my dinner consisted of Nutella and pretzels simply out of my laziness to muster up the energy, walk outside in the bitter, cold, Rhode Island weather, and hop on a shuttle to the dining hall. Now that I’m back home in warm and sunny Southern California, I no longer have an excuse to have dessert for dinner, and that dessert should be just that, dessert. Darn.
Homemade Nutella is different from store-bought Nutella. This is the first thing you should know. We don’t have fancy processing machines to get our Nutella to the same texture as store-bought, and I’m one hundred percent okay with that because the taste is spot on. And, quite honestly, I don’t mind the little bits of hazelnuts. I decided to swirl a bit of this hazelnut-chocolate goodness into luscious peanut butter brownies, but you may use it in whatever which way you choose. The pretzel and Nutella combo is highly encouraged, obviously.
2 cups toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon canola oil
Start by toasting the hazelnuts in a pan over medium low heat until the nuts are fragrant and you can see a slight change in color. When done, remove the skins by placing in between two dishtowels and rubbing in a circular motion. Put the hazelnuts into a food processor or blender and grind until the nuts come together. Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar and melted chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate by placing in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until melted. Pulse all of this together. Depending on how thick or thin you prefer your Nutella, you can now add the canola oil, or opt to leave out if you prefer it thick. Store in an airtight container.
yields about 1 1/2 cups
These homemade Nutella and peanut butter brownies are the perfect dessert (and dinner if you’re lucky enough to get away with it. In which case, I envy you). The base of the brownie is somewhere in between a cake and fudge consistency which is perfect to me. I hate brownies that are so light it should just be cake, and brownies that are as rich as fudge? I can’t deal. If you want fudge, make fudge. Am I right?
Nutella & Peanut Butter Brownies
recipe adapted from smitten kitchen
for the brownie:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
for the peanut butter swirl:
1/2 cup peanut butter*
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Using an all natural peanut butter will not produce the same results.
for the nutella swirl:
4-5 tablespoons homemade or store-bought nutella
Preheat oven to 350. Begin by melting unsweetened chocolate and butter over a double boiler, whisking until smooth. Take off the heat and mix in sugar. Let the mixture cool down a bit before adding the eggs one at a time until combined. Add vanilla and salt. When mixed, pour in flour using a rubber spatula to combine. Do not over mix! Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper that folds over 2 sides allowing easy removal. Pour brownie mixture into pan.
Prepare peanut butter swirl by combining all ingredients in a bowl and whisking together. Dollop mixture by the spoonful all over the surface of the brownies. Then, do the same with the Nutella. Using a butter knife, swirl the peanut butter and Nutella together so it looks like this:
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into just the brownie. Try not to test an area covered by the peanut butter and Nutella as this will not firm up until cooled. When done, let brownies cool in the pan before removing to slice. Store in airtight container. These brownies are divine the same day, but continue to develop flavor as they sit overnight. Happy Brownie-ing!