I’m in Nevada right now, visiting friends and fam. There’s been lots of shopping with my mama, eating of delicious things, and chatting way past my bedtime.
I’ll be out west for the next week and some change, celebrating the holidays. Before I left I made these brownies, dusted them with a mixture of cocoa powder and luster dust (sparkly!), packed them up pretty, and carried them with me on the plane. They’re fudgy, and deeply chocolatey, with a little crunch and nuttiness from chopped hazelnuts. I just LOVE hazelnuts, so I studded the batter with whole nuts so each square would be gem.
These brownies are pretty easy to whip up and brownie gifts are always well received.
Cocoa Brownies with Hazelnuts
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
To make these extra special, I used Valrhona cocoa powder.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa (plus more for dusting, optional)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 large, cold eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
16 whole hazelnuts for the top
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line a 8×8 pan, set aside.
Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and combine butter, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Stir from time to time until butter is melted and mixture is smooth and hot to the touch. Remove bowl from pan of water and set aside to cool to warm.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon, then add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter is thick, shiny, and well combined, add the flour, stirring just until it is incorporated. Then continue to beat vigorously for about 40 strokes. Fold in the nuts and scrape the batter into the pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula and stud whole nuts across the top in rows (4X4).
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a rack before cutting into 16 squares and dusting (optional).