Chocolate Brownie and Orange Tart (with hazelnuts)

Back in 2015 I baked an absolutely delicious chocolate brownie and raspberry tart for my birthday. It was a huge success, and not that difficult – despite it having quite a few steps. This tart right here is a variation on that one – I used orange instead of raspberry and added some more hazelnuts to the equation.

It looks a tiny bit less appealing than the raspberry one because the orange coulis almost looks a little green (it isn’t; that’s just the brownie shining through), but it tastes just as delicious – or perhaps even a little better! I adore the combination of orange and chocolate, and the hazelnuts lift it up even more. I roasted these in the oven for a few minutes – that makes them taste even yummier. If you’re not a fan of nuts, however, you can easily leave them out.

I’m still having some trouble getting back into blogging and reading, which bums me out a little. I’m going to keep trying, though! I really love this blog and this community, and I definitely want to keep it all going.

Also, an exciting life update: I found a job! At a book store! It’s only a part time gig as an on call employee person thingy (and not yet enough to live off of) but it’s perfect for me. I had my first couple of days last week and it’s even more fun than I imagined it would be. Perhaps I’ll do a life update post soon to tell you all a bit more about what’s been going on with me post university. But first, let’s get to the recipe!

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Chocolate and Hazelnut Mini Muffins

After not having been able to bake anything for about 3 or 4 weeks (I can’t even remember), I was very excited to finally be back in my kitchen figuring out a new recipe! When I was in Normandy I bought this really nice silicon mini muffin form and last Monday I thought it was high time to try it out. I’d had the idea to make some chocolate chip hazelnut muffins for quite some time, so that’s what I’m presenting you with today!

I made twenty mini muffins and still had quite some batter left, so I also made six regular muffins. I brought them with me to the weekly Game of Thrones night at two of my best friends’ place and they were very much appreciated! I hope you’ll enjoy them just as much as we did. They’re really easy to make, and of course you don’t have to make the mini versions, this would be about enough for 12 regular muffins as well, I think!

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Frisian Cookies (Fryske Dúmkes)

My parents have this beautiful hazel in their back garden. It was already there when we moved in when I was 6, but we never paid that much attention to it. I remember one year it gave us a huge harvest, but we barely did anything with it; we just had a humongous bowl full of hazelnuts sitting somewhere in the house for a couple of months.

P1000596This year we’ve got another one of those big harvests, but now we’re planning to actually do something with all (or most) of those delicious hazelnuts. Because they’re good. They’re really good. I’ve already had a lot of them and they’re really tasty straight out of their shell, let alone when incorporated in some delicious bake.

When I was at my parents’ about a week ago my mother suggested we’d use some of these nuts to bake some traditional Frisian cookies called Fryske Dúmkes (literally translated: Frisian thumbs). They are delicious cookies that are especially known for their distinct anise flavour, and originated in Friesland, a province in the northern part of the Netherlands where my parents both grew up and most of my family still lives.

Besides aniseed and hazelnuts, these cookies also contain ginger and cinnamon, which together make for a fantastic flavour. Mine don’t exactly look like the traditional Fryske dúmke, which is somewhat smaller and looks like it has a thumb print on it. The last picture in this post shows what it’s (more or less) supposed to look like.

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Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

Last Friday a friend of mine hosted a party: The Grand Dessert Happening (literal translation of the Dutch “Het Grote Toetjesgebeuren”). It’s basically a party to which everyone has to bring some sort of dessert or baked good. The first edition was in June, and it was so much fun! One table was completely packed with all kinds of baked goodies and everything was really delicious! This time there were fewer baked goodies, but more bottles of glühwein, which is not so surprising, since it was the Frosty/Frosting edition. It was a lot of fun, once again!

Of course, what with me being me, I did bake something for the party, and it was a great success! Taste-wise, that is, because the chocolate butterscotch bars I made looked kind of weird since the butterscotch didn’t really solidify that well.

Still, though, they tasted great (apparently — I don’t like butterscotch, so I didn’t eat these) and I figured out what I did wrong, so I can warn you about it in this post.

These chocolate butterscotch bars are perfect for a cold wintery day, perhaps with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

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You’ll need…

For the dough:

– 225 g plain flour

– 0,5 teaspoon baking powder

– 150 g dark chocolate

– 115 g butter, in cubes (don’t melt it)

– 50 g demerara sugar

– 2 tablespoons ground almonds

And for the butterscotch layer:

– 175 g butter, in cubes

– 115 g white caster sugar

– 2 tablespoons golden syrup

– 175 ml condensed milk

– 150 g whole hazelnuts, roasted

For the top layer:

– 250 g dark chocolate (for the chocolate layer)

You also need…

– a baking tin of 30 x 20 cm

– parchment paper

– a saucepan

– and an oven of course! The dough for the bars needs to be baked at 160 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven)

Let’s get baking!

Make ‘n’ bake the dough! So, we start with the first layer (makes sense if you think about it). For this part you’ll need the top bit of the ingredients list (“for the dough:”). Start of by melting the chocolate au bain marie.

While your chocolate is doing its thing in the bain marie, sieve the flour and baking powder above a bowl. Now you need to add the butter and mix it with the dry ingredients in the bowl until you’ve got a nice and crumbly dough. You can use a spoon for this, but it’s more effective to use your hands. Then you need to add the sugar. Once the chocolate is completely melted add it and the ground almonds to the dough and mix everything with a spoon.

chocolatedoughlayerNow, line your baking tin with parchment paper (I didn’t do so and it was near impossible to get the bars out of it in the end) and then spread the dough in the tin. Press the dough a bit with a spoon and make sure it is spread out evenly. Pierce the dough with a fork in a couple of places. And then it’s time to put it in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes! Once it’s done, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Prepare the butterscotch layer You can wait a little while before preparing the butterscotch layer, since the chocolate dough part needs to be baked and cooled before pouring on the butterscotch. Clean up the kitchen a little and have a cup of tea and then get cracking at the butterscotch. Put the butter, golden syrup, condensed milk and caster sugar into a saucepan and heat it while stirring until the butter and sugar are melted. Now, let the mixture stew until it’s turned a golden brown.

This is where I went wrong. I used light brown caster sugar instead of white caster sugar and that made it quite impossible to see when the mixture was done. My mixture obviously wasn’t done, and that’s why it was runny. So, I can’t really tell you how long it’ll take for yours to be done.

butterscotchlayerOnce the butterscotch mixture is done, add the roasted hazelnuts to it. Then you need to pour it onto the (now baked and cooled) chocolate dough. Make sure the hazelnuts are evenly spread out, like on the picture on the right.

Prepare the chocolate layer We’re almost done! All that’s left to do now is prepare the chocolate layer to go on top of the butterscotch. Again, melt the chocolate au bain marie. Once it’s entirely melted, pour it onto the butterscotch and spread it out evenly so everything is covered. Let the entire thing cool, until the chocolate on top is nicely solidified.

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Next up is taking the now still one giant bar out of the baking tin. For me this was quite a hassle, but if you’ve used the parchement paper I hope it’ll be a lot easier for you. Once you’ve taken it out cut it into bars (any size you want). Use a sharp knife and be gentle because the chocolate layer breaks easily.

And that’s it! It takes a little time, but then you’ve got yourself a nice wintery snack. I hope you enjoy.

Also: Merry Christmas everyone!

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