Twitter can be a fun place to hang out and exchange witty banter, snarky remarks, and, of course, much discourse about what we’re cooking and baking.
I believe I was following an exchange between Abby and Jamie when I casually remarked that I would love to bake with them. One tweet led to another and before anyone knew it, #baketogether was born.
We turned to our undeniably fearless leader Abby to come up with the recipe we’d put our two cents into. Nothing too laborious, lest it frighten away the newbie bakers. Of course, Abby wisely selected her Chocolate Truffle Tart, a gorgeous little confection, perfect as is, but willing to welcome all kinds of changes and tweaks with open arms.
Thrilled and excited to begin, my brain then reminded me that there are only two of us in this household, and one of us doesn’t want to eat dessert. But, since we were to be whiling away Memorial Day weekend at our friend Joey’s beach house, I decided I’d make the tart there.
Other than bringing the 9 inch tart ring and chocolate with me, Joey made sure we had everything we needed, since I provided him with a detailed shopping list. And, lucky for me, another of Joey’s weekend guests LOVES to bake. Great for me, too, since we could gab while making the tart.
Oh..note to self: never ask anyone what their mix-in of choice might be. Because if you ask four people, you’ll get six answers ranging from ‘don’t make anything special for me, because you know I won’t eat it’ to ‘ewww, that doesn’t sound good’. Just make whatever you’re going to make and even the picky ones will eat it. Like the one in this household who doesn’t eat dessert. Ahem.
So, what did I do? Not too much, since I was gun shy with this group. I added hazelnuts and cinnamon to the crust and replaced the recipe’s rum with Frangelico (I have a heavy hand) to the ganache and the mascarpone topping. I toyed with the idea of adding a layer of caramel between the crust and the ganache. I vocalized a desire to make a hazelnut brittle to break into shards for adorning and extra crunch. Neither came to be, since lounging on the chaise by the pool seemed to have a bigger hold on me than I thought.
Hazelnuts gave the crust a lovely mild nutty, crunch while the cinnamon added an additional savory sweetness, not to mention a delightful perfume in the kitchen while the crust baked. Even the buff-est guys hanging out in the house couldn’t resist following the baking crust’s scent into the kitchen to take a peek.
The Frangelico gave the ganache the wonderful gianduja flavor I love so much. More Frangelico in the topping? Why not?
The results? Well, Joey decided his understated cake knife and cake pedestal were the perfect accompaniments to this lovely dessert.
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart
Makes 1 tart or 12 servings
For the crust:
- 1 cup or 4.5 oz graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 4.5 Tbsps melted butter
For the filling:
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz. (4 Tbsps) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 Tbsps Frangelico
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch fine sea salt
For the topping:
- 1 package (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsps Frangelico
- (Optional) Chopped Hazelnuts
To make the crust:
Heat the oven to 375°F and have ready a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
1. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, chopped hazelnuts and brown sugar until well blended. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and mix and smear the crumbs and butter until well blended and evenly moist. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly onto the bottom with a straight-sided, flat-based metal measuring cup to create an even 90º angle straight side. Bake until fragrant and slightly darker brown, 10 to12 minutes and set on a rack to cool.
To make the filling:
1. In a heatproof medium bowl, melt the chocolate, half and half, and butter in a microwave or over simmering water. Remove from the heat and add the Frangelico, vanilla and salt. Whisk the mixture until well blended. Set aside, whisking occasionally, until room temperature and slightly thickened, about 1 hour. (For faster cooling, refrigerate the filling until thickened to a pudding consistency, about 30 minutes, whisking and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes.)
2. With a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the crust and spread evenly. Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until the filling is set, about 4 hours and up to 1 day before proceeding with the recipe.
To make the topping:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar and Frangelico. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase speed to medium high and beat until cream is thick and holds firm peaks.
2. Using a small metal spatula, spread the whipped cream over the chocolate filling leaving lots of swirls and peaks. Cover loosely and refrigerate up to 8 hours. If you have chopped hazelnuts, sprinkle them on the topping just before serving.
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Last weekend I didn’t attend either of the two different food blogger conferences in Atlanta and Washington, DC. Clearly, that was a BIG mistake on my part, since I’ve been working for days on this one little post. Sure, I skimmed the live tweets during the sessions, glanced over the live blogs for any key tidbits of never-fail blogging how-to secrets that would catapult me into the big leagues in one easy step. And, while I did read some terrific post-mortem summaries from bloggers I adore, I’m sitting here typing and deleting, typing and deleting. Typing. Deleting.
I’m trying for the life of me to figure out how to share one of my favorite brownie recipes with you. A double decker espresso-infused fudgey brownie sandwiching a silky smooth ganache making it even more outrageous. It’s not writing the recipe that has me stymied. It’s the the fact that this crave-worthy treat may never see the internet light of day because of three little dirty words.
Search. Engine. Optimization. It might as well be called the shackles of cyberspace thanks to the new Google recipe search algorithm that’s systematically ranking recipes based on a ranking system fueled by some kind of undemocratic system that gives preferential treatment to recipes you might not ever want from sources you might not know and trust.
Feeling like Charlie Brown, doomed before I even push publish, I’m sure this little recipe won’t reach more than 12 people. Let’s not kid ourselves…google the words ‘brownie recipe’ and see how many gazillions you get. This one will be on the last page of ‘search’. That is, IF there’s a last page of ‘search’.
And, then there’s the photography. I’ll just leave that one alone.* I can feel my numbers plummeting and I haven’t even posted the recipe!!!! For this reason alone, I’m not going to compose a casual lineup of the usual brownie ingredients that you’ve seen countless times before, We all know there’s nothing I can do to a photo of butter, chocolate, white and brown sugar, eggs, instant espresso and flour except make you avert your eyes.
In a giant leap of faith, I’m going to post this recipe for the 12 people who might have the tenacity of Diogenes to search and search and search. I promise if you try it, you’ll see why it’s ranked number 1 in my own overflowing brownie file.
And, I’ll go to a blogger conference and work hard to up my game.
Here’s how I flip the brownies out of the pan.
*Say a prayer for Penny De Los Santos, who’ll be a guest speaker at Big Summer PotLuck 2.
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