While it’s kind of sad to take a break from Christmas Cookies this week, I didn’t really stray too far from the theme of sweet, chocolate-y, decadent and seasonal.
These brownies…These Hazelnut Crumble Brownies.
They are thick and fudge-y. The crumble on top is sweet, buttery and a little salty. And it’s full of creamy, toasted hazelnuts.
They are festive, because the hazelnut is a christmas nut. I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way, somebody decided that the hazelnut was a favorite of Santa’s. Not quite as much as the chestnut of course, but close.
It could be because they’re harvested in late autumn that they’re traditionally used around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Whatever the reason, they are delicious with chocolate, so when I was coming up with a plan B recipe for these brownies, hazelnuts seemed like the perfect choice.
This recipe is plan B, because I was trying to make hot cocoa brownies with roasted marshmallows on top. That didn’t work out so well. I don’t have a kitchen torch, and my broiler was not working. I thought maybe I could get away with putting them in a hot oven for a few minutes. All that did was melt the marshmallows into the brownie. They tasted good, but they look like a melty mess.
I actually prefer the flavor of plan B, though. Salty sweet + Chocolate = Tastiness!
That’s why I try not to be disappointed when a recipe doesn’t work out like I imagine. Sometimes it leads to even better things!
I just used raw hazelnuts, and the time in the oven brought them to the perfectly brown, toasted state.
This recipe makes 9 generous portions of brownie, or about 12 medium sized brownies. I added coffee to the batter. Just a little, because it makes the chocolate flavor stand out even more, and coffee is basically equivalent to magic in my mind. Because it’s been chillier than normal in California these last few weeks, coffee is always on my mind.
Now, keep in mind, when I say “chillier”, it means we are having daytime highs of like, 55, instead of our usual 75, and some places are actually reaching freezing temperatures at night!
While a lot of you reading this would probably consider that to be warm for this time of year, to me, it’s like a winter wonderland. I was at my mom’s house the other day, and the wind was blowing hard. Leaves were swirling around outside the window, and we were like “oh it looks like snow!”
Haha. That’s what we do in warm climates during Christmas time. We use our imaginations, and we eat brownies like these with coffee to enhance the Christmas joy!
- HAZELNUT CRUMBLE:
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup hazelnuts finely chopped + ½ cup hazelnuts roughly chopped
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbl butter
- FOR THE BROWNIES:
- ½ (2 sticks) cup butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 oz espresso or strong brewed coffee
- ½ cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- FOR THE CRUMBLE:
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, finely chopped hazlenuts, brown sugar and salt and stir to combine.
- Melt butter, and pour over flour mixture. Mix with your hands until it hold together and there is no loose flour left.
- Set aside.
- FOR THE BROWNIES:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Set oven rack to middle position.
- Grease an 8X8" square cake pan or line with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Run this flour mixture through a sifter into another bowl to break up any lumps in the cocoa powder and fully combine all the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Add butter, milk chocolate, sugars, espresso and vanilla to a medium saucepan over a medium flame.
- Allow butter and chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth.
- Allow mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Add egg to chocolate mixture and whisk together until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.
- Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl.
- Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture and stir until just combined.
- Transfer dough to prepared pan and sprinkled crumble mixture evenly over the top.
- Sprinkle with roughly chopped hazelnuts.
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
- When brownies are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, it’s done.
- Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.