Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownie

Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownie

“First time I heard about brownies, I was in hostelry. I looked at it as just another chocolate cake, but, after all, that evil cake was much better than any other chocolate cake I’ve ever tried. It was not just another sponge cake with a fancy name, was something completely different.”

My first brownie

First time I tried a brownie was also the first time I baked one.

I heard about the damn cake in school. I don’t know if it was in a class, if someone mentioned it, if I read about in a magazine, I don’t know. When you start studying cooking it’s a whole new world. It is hard to say from where did you get this or that information. But if there is something I’ve learnt as a chef is that the taste and smell can trigger and create very strong memmories.

How many times have happened to you trying a food or feeling an aroma that reminds you something that happened to you. Some situation that you lived with a friend or family, something good or bad, something from your childhood, something very personal. I know that wet sand, live seafood, petrol in the water and the mix of fibre and resine smell like home. I know that pursley soup smells like sunet at grandma’s house in the summer. I know that marcela smells like a nearly finished summer.

I perfectly recall the first time I tried a brownie. Was also the first time I cooked one.

It was surprisingly good

I did my first internship in Pestana Palace in Lisbon. The kitchen, by that time, was run by Executive Chef Aimé Barroyer and Pastry Chef Joaquim Sousa.

In the bakery I’ve been given the task to bake a really weird cake. “You’re baking a brownie”. Okay, I would bake a chocolate cake, but what kind of cake bakes with such a small amount of flour? By that time I was still very green in cooking, so it didn’t make much sense. But I did what I’ve been told to do. I’ve always been very good in that.

It was a brownie with three types of chocolate, hazelnut praliné, roasted hazelnuts and loads of butter.

I baked the cake, always doubting on the final result. After leaving the oven, the cake was still looking very fragile, but I’ve been told to let it cool down before cutting it.

When I sliced the cake, I noticed it actually had a nice texture, but not spongious at all. I felt like I was slicing a bar of buttery chocolate. A bit weird. But it was when I tried the leftover edges that the it all made sense. That was no ordinary chocolate cake. It was something beyong that. And it was surprisingly good!

The best brownie I’ve ever had

Since then, I’ve made a gazillion brownies. I think every single restaurant I’ve been through have their own version of this cake. With hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or walnuts, with dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate, with carob powder or cocoa powder, I’ve seen everything. But all them share something – loads and loads of fat. Because that’s the secret for a good brownie, loads of butter and chocolate. That’s what gives this recipe that texture we like so much.

Here in Norway there’s a bakery I simply love. They use nothing but organic products and they bake the best bread I’ve ever taste. Actually most of their products are simply amazing. Specially the brownie. They make this brownie with almond flower, three different layers of chocolate, one of which is white chocolate. I hate white chocolate. I really do. But I love that brownie. It is so good. But, like all the rest, not healthy at all. Though most people actually think it is just because it’s gluten free. Well, unfortunately (or fortunately), it contains animal products and so, because of that, the last time I had it was probably over two years ago. But that is certainly the best brownie I’ve ever had.

Brownie with beans?

It is very important to state two things:

  • This recipe will not have exactly the same result as a tradicional brownie recipe;
  • This recipe doesn’t taste, NOT EVEN A LITTLE, like beans;

The big secret for this recipe are actually the beans. They’re what will give structure to the cake. But don’t worry, you won’t even notice it. Besides the neutral flavor, it will give an awesome nutritional profile to this recipe. Loads of protein, for the people worried about it.

The main goal with this recipe, just like all the others I bring to you here on the blog, is the remaking of a traditional recipe in a healthier way.

I could be making a 100% vegetarian brownie loaded with margerine, coconut oil and melted chocolate. That would be easy. More than easy, I know that would bring me more readers, because that’s exactly what everybody likes to eat. But when I started The Real Green Scene, I started it with a goal. More than a goal, a mission – to show the world that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless!

Ingredients:

3 Cups of Black or Kidney Beans
1 + 1/3 (1,25) Cups of Hazelnut (or almond) Butter
24 Dates
2 TSP of Baking Powder
2 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar
4 TBSP of Cocoa Powder
1 Cup of Grounded Oatmeal
1 Cup of Vegetable Milk
1 Cup of Roasted Hazelnuts
1 Cup of Chocolate Nibs (optional)
Zest from 2 Oranges

Instructions:

  • Set your oven on 1510ºC, just enough to melt the iron and turn it into glowing lava and start the chaos;
  • Pit the dates and soak them for 1 or 2 hours;
  • In the food processor, blend the beans, hazelnut butter, soaked dates, grounded oatmeal, baking powder, cocoa powder and veggie milk;
  • When well blitzed together, pour the dough to a bowl;
  • Roughly chop the roasted hazelnuts;
  • Zest the orange;
  • Fold in the hazelnuts, orange zest and apple cider vinegar into the dough;
    • If you also want to add some chocolate nibs, this is the right time to do it;

brownie 1

  • Pour the dough to a baking tray;
    • The tray shouldn’t be too high or narrow;
    • The cake should be about 5 cm high;
      • If it gets too thick, it will take too long to bake and, probably, the consistency will not be the desired one;
      • If it gets too thin, it will bake too quickly and it will get dry;
    • I would recommend you to use a non-sticking pan;
      • In case of yours have the tendency to stick, I would recommend greasing it with some fat, like coconut oil or margerine;

brownie 2

  • Bake the cake on 180ºC (pre-heated oven) for about 45 minutes / 1 hour;
    • The baking time varies a lot from oven to oven, so it’s probably a good ideia to start on 30 minutes and check it every 5 or 10;
    • The cake is nearly ready when it starts cracking on the top;
    • You can check the baking point by sticking in a toothpick – it should come humid, but not covered in raw dough;
    • Keep in mind that the cake will never be completely solid while hot;
  • I strongly recommend to allow it to completely cool down before removing it from the pan and slicing it;
    • Do not ignore this step as the cake REALLY has to completely cool down to solidify;
      • I even recommend leaving it in the fridge for a couple hours before slicing it;

brownie 3

brownie 4

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Brownie 6

Caloric Breakdown:

(I sliced my cake in 16 pieces; 1 Service = 1/16 of the recipe)

Blue – 33% Carbs

Red – 55% Fat

Green – 12% Protein

Note:

  • This cake goes very well with nana ice cream or regular vanilla ice cream;
  • If the portion is too caloric for you, slice it in smaller portions, like 24 or something;
  • The nutrition data above does not include the chocolate nibs, as they are totally optional;
  • If you like your cakes very sweet, I would recommend adding some extra dates or maple syrup to the recipe;
  • If you can’t find hazelnut butter on your local groceries store, you can always use almond or peanut butter, or even make your own as I already posted here;
    • I would just recommend to peel the roasted hazelnuts, it’s some extra work, but the butter gets creamier 🙂

brownie 7

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