Just down the street from my day job, there's a restaurant where the food is fabulous and the atmosphere is joyous. It's called Caffe Formenti and their Italian coffee kickstarts my day. Richie the chef/owner absolutely loves food and many a "try this and see what you think" moment has happened in the morning. Last week, he gave me some of his straight from Italy hazelnut paste to use at home. The smell was intoxicating, like the purest Nutella or gianduja and it drove me mad all day beside my desk as I pondered what to do with it. Naturally, I'd have to make something that could be easily shared with the work team (and Richie, to say thanks). Apparently, the Chocolate Coconut Brownies I'd brought to work before were a massive hit, so I thought I'd stick to the brownie theme but use that heavenly paste instead.
Last week, the ever-funny English Mum was boasting that she had the most perfect brownie recipe ever, so I thought I'd put her to the test and try it for myself... be afraid Becky, be very afraid!
Italian Hazelnut Brownies
200g Dark Chocolate
200g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Hazelnut Paste
110g Plain Flour
Heat your oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4 and line a square cake tin with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate and butter together (either in a bain marie or in the microwave) - do it very gently so the chocolate doesn't burn. Let it cool for 15 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and frothy, then add the hazelnut paste and mix well. Don't let the 6 eggs freak you out - I made a double batch to feed the five thousand!
Pour the chocolate into the bowl, whisking well so there's no hidden eggy bits lurking at the bottom of the bowl.
Finally, fold in the flour and then pour into your baking tin.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is cracked and shiny (check it from 25 minutes on). The brownie will be slightly squidgy in the middle. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin, hiding half for yourself and then cutting the rest into squares. Dust with icing sugar if you're feeling particularly energetic.