I enjoy some of the cooking shows on Food Network and one of the episodes of Sweet Dreams (a show on desserts) focused on just brownie recipes (w00t). And, rather than Gale (the host) coming up with her own recipes, she baked brownie recipes submitted by viewers. One in particular, the Peanut Butter-Hazelnut Brownies, caught my eye. Of course, the “hazelnut-chocolate spread” to which they refer in the recipe is really just Nutella.
That recipe sounded pretty good to me at the time and so I exported that episode from my TiVo to VHS for safekeeping. Then, when the December Cocktail Event/Holiday Party came up, I figured that I could put the recipe to good use. So, the weekend before, I bought all the ingredients which I didn’t already have — which was primarily flour, cocoa powder and Nutella. And, on Tuesday evening (the day before the party), I baked the brownies.
Per the instructions, I baked the brownies at 350° for 30 minutes and then I let them cool to room temperature before cutting. In my case, the brownies weren’t quite cool when I was heading for bed and so I left the cutting for the following day. Then, after work that next day, I proceeded to cut the brownies and place them into a rectangular Rubbermaid container for the party. And, as I am wont to do, I tried one to ensure that they turned out all right.
It was horrible.
Somehow, the brownie had completely dried up; I was actually so dry that I needed a glass of water to help wash it down. And, the peanut butter and Nutella flavors were nowhere to be seen. Figuring that maybe the outside edge had dried, I then tried a square cut from the center — no such luck, it was just as bad. I couldn’t even make it through eating the whole square and I ended up throwing out the batch. Of course, I still had to bring something to the party (“a snack or dessert”) and so I stopped by Super Target to buy some cookies from their bakery department.
Not to be discouraged, I recalled that the Dallas Camera Club’s Holiday Dinner was coming up (which was also a pot-luck) and I decided to try the recipe again. Fortunately, I had enough ingredients left over from the first attempt that I didn’t need to go back to the store. So, as before, I followed the recipe exactly but I baked the brownies for just 15 minutes this time, and added increments of 5 more minutes until a knife came out clean (for a total of about 23 minutes).
Of course, I had to allow the brownies to cool before cutting them and so I didn’t know right away whether I had succeeded. And, the following day, I sliced the brownies into squares and sampled one — it was distinctly moister but still a bit chalky. After rummaging through my cupboard, I found a legacy can of frosting (left from a former roommate) which I thought to try (Betty Crocker's “Rich & Creamy Mint Chocolate Chip”, fwiw).
The frostiing was a little hard to spread, right out of the can, but I nuked it for about 15 seconds which softened it up. And, I ended up using the whole can on the brownies’ 9x13 pan. I then sampled a square once more and found that this was reasonably all right. It wasn’t the best batch brownies I had ever had, but the frosting pushed them over the line from “bad” to “ok”.
Considering the ingredients, Nutella and peanut butter, I didn’t think I could go wrong. But, this recipe confounded me. I suppose can’t rule out that maybe my oven’s thermostat could be miscalibrated, though that wouldn’t explain the good results I’ve had with other baked goods. Anyhow, if you’re looking for a Nutella-based brownie recipe, I would try something else. And, if you can get this recipe to come out deliciously, then you’re a better man/woman than I.