I’m a brownie fan. Give me a dense, fudgy brownie over a cake or cookie any day. I’ve made peppermint and salted caramel versions in past Decembers, but recently came across a Nutella brownie that begged to be baked. As I stirred the batter, snacking on some chewy dried cherries in my kitchen cupboard, it occurred to me that the two would be great together. I was right. The result: dense chocolate-hazelnut brownies studded with crunchy toasted hazelnuts and chewy-sweet cherries. Divine – and perfect for the holidays. To give them as gifts, bake batches in square pans from the dollar or craft store, then wrap uncut in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
Brownies must not be overbaked if you want them dense and moist – these will begin to pull away from the edges of the pan, but still be very moist in the middle. You’ll want damp crumbs sticking to a skewer poked in the middle – or judge by sight and feel. If the edges are set but the brownies are still soft in the middle, they should be done. Remember they’ll firm up as they cool. These brownies freeze well if you want to bake them ahead – try lining the pan with foil, then easily lifting cooled brownies out to wrap and store in the freezer.
Nutella Brownies with Hazelnuts & Dried Cherries
adapted from epicurious
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter an 8×8″ pan.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, chocolate chips and Nutella over low heat, stirring until smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar and eggs. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the chocolate mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in the toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in the pan. Makes 16 squares.