Sunday, 12 April 2015

Brownies with Hazelnut Praline Crust

I sometimes go to great lengths not to waste food. I've been known to decide on dinner on the basis of half a tin of tomatoes in the fridge. So when I tried making hazelnut praline to decorate last week's chocolate cheesecake, and ground it too finely, there was no chance it would be thrown away.

I thought about incorporating it into a chocolate refrigerator cake (tiffin), but decided it would end up like finely chopped hazelnuts, and the flavour of the praline would be lost. I tried making balls of praline mixed with Biscoff spread, which I would place in brownie batter so that each square had a nutty 'truffle', but the mixture was just too sweet to be pleasant. In the end I decided just to sprinkle it over a tray of brownie batter and hope that the sugar didn't dissolve quickly, leaving just chopped nuts on the surface, or even worse, that the praline didn't just sink.

The plan worked just fine - the praline made a crisp crust on top of the brownie, which was a nice contrast in texture, and the crust still had the praline flavour of caramel and toasted hazelnuts. I used my favourite brownie recipe, which I don't feel quite as guilty about since I reduced the sugar content by 25%, scaled down to an 8" square baking tin. *The praline was made from 50g chopped toasted hazelnuts mixed into 50g of caramelised sugar which was spread out on a piece of baking parchment to cool, then broken into pieces and ground to a fine crumb after it had set.

140g unsalted butter
140g 74% plain chocolate
300g light muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
160g plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
100g praline (see above*)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large bowl - I prefer to do it over hot water, but the microwave also works. Cool to lukewarm, if necessary, then mix in the sugar and vanilla extract, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then sift in the flour and cocoa and fold in.
Transfer the batter to an 8" (20cm) baking tin, lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle over the praline to give an even layer on top. Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until a test probe comes out with a few damp crumbs still clinging.
Cool in the tin then cut into as many pieces as you think fit. I make 16 pieces out of this size tin.

The only criticism I had of these brownies was that they were slightly overcooked. I didn't check until 30 minutes had passed, and they were past the optimum point for a really moist brownie by then. It doesn't spoil the flavour but it does make them slightly drier than I really like.

I will also be interested to see if the praline stays crisp for longer than a day or two - it takes us a while to get through a whole batch of brownies.

I'm entering these into the Tea Time Treats April link-up party - this month, with Easter in mind, the theme is chocolate. Tea Time Treats is co-hosted by The Hedge Combers and Lavender and Lovage, and this month's host is Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

As I'm short of baking time this month (I don't often bake more than once a week now, because we're both weight watching), these brownies will also be my entry into this month's AlphaBakes Challenge, which is the letter B. I realise brownies aren't very original, but it's better than no entry at all! AlphaBakes is co-hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes and Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, and Caroline is this month's host.


Alicia Foodycat said...

That is absolutely inspired!

Anne said...

I hate to waste anything too, what a lovely way to use up the praline to show it still in its glory! Can never go wrong with a brownie!

Snowy said...

What a great addition to a brownie. They look delicious and an interesting way to use up the praline.

Caroline Cowe said...

It's so hard to get brownies to the exact point where they're not underbaked and they're not overbaked, isn't it? The crust is a great idea, thanks for sharing with Alphabakes!

Johanna GGG said...

great idea - I hate to waste too - perhaps I might have thought of making chocolate bark but I think I would prefer these brownies with the praline