Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Soft Chocolate Fudge Cream Cake

I'm staring at this page right now and I have nothing. I think for once in my life I have learned to clear my mind. That is not very useful as a writer in this moment but I'll take it as it comes.

To not think is so much harder than to think. Usually I have ten million thoughts running through my head but not today. There's only chocolate on my mind and I'm going to let it play out. If I give in to my chocolate thoughts then that leaves me with nothing else but incredibly satisfied taste buds and a clear conscience. It's bittersweet clarity.

Let's dive right in!

My recipe today is a soft, fudgy, almost-a-brownie-but not-quite-a-cake cake.

At first glance it looks like a brownie but when you get down to the method you start thinking "cake". You'd be right either way because this dessert sits right on the edge of both definitions.

You need plenty of melted chocolate to start. Let's "Amen" to that! It feels like a brownie at this point...

Chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is crucial. Other chocolate will carry more sugar into the recipe and make it too dense - more like a brownie.

Now on to creaming. Butter and sugar get light and fluffy. You know the drill.

Eggs and vanilla up next. It feels like cake again. Two tablespoons of coffee add a hint of bitterness and this addition of liquid adds just a touch of softness to move the recipe away from being a dense brownie.

After we mix in the melted chocolate we stir through a sifted combo of flour and cocoa. It needs about 25 minutes in a moderate oven to stay soft and moist.

The whipped cream is necessary. It will just haunt you all day if you don't. 

Permission to stop thinking and just eat this hunk of chocolate. Amen!

Soft Chocolate Fudge Cake

170g/6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted
½ cup (113g) unsalted Butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (150g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp hot coffee or water
2/3 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 inch round springform pan with non stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small cup mix together the warm water with the instant espresso powder, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and espresso mixture. Beat until all is combined.

Add the melted chocolate and stir it through. Sift flour and cocoa over the bowl and fold it in gently until it’s incorporated but don’t over mix.

Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but not wet batter.

Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Whip cream to soft peaks and slather over cooled cake. Decorate with chocolate shavings.
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cheat's Opera Cake

Climbing a mountain makes me very emotional... the whole way I'm saying "why am I doing this?"... "this is too much"..."this hurts"..."I don't think I can make it"..."I don't want to do this anymore"..."I'm over it"..."I'm not happy with this"... "really why am I doing this?"...

And then you reach the top and it's like "I'm so glad I did this". It is always worth it.

Sometimes when I'm writing a new recipe I think the same way. All the baking, lots of layers, two kinds of fillings, creaming and whipping, and heating and cooling... so much waiting and glazing and finickying. There's all the worry of "what if it doesn't turn out?". I think about the potential waste of chocolate... Why?

Why do I bother doing it?

Because in the end I'm always like "I'm so glad I made this". This is delicious.
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sour Cherry & Vanilla Bean Frangipane Tarts

In winter it is easy to be less excited about taking in your 5 servings of fruit per day. Apples and oranges get old real fast.

It's about this time of the year that I really start to miss summer fruits (and daylight and polished toe nails). I dream of blueberry pies and juicy strawberry tarts. If there was cream then there were raspberries, and watermelon salads became an everyday thing. I can actually feel the juice of a peach dripping down my chin. Remember those days?

That's why they invented dried fruit. Frozen berries are great to have on hand but let's face it - not the same. Luckily cherries dry very well and dried sour cherries are almost better than the fresh ones.

A few things I like to put dried cherries into:
1. Cookie dough (with chunks of chocolate too please!)
2. Brownies
3. Brandy

Today I make them shine in a frangipane tart, or tarts (plural) since I made five of them! Almonds and cherries have similar flavour profiles which is why they complement each other so well. If you don't have dried cherries, prunes would actually work nicely but I love the tartness that the cherries bring.

I made these tarts personal-sized because I want one all to myself. They are too good to share and sharing is sometimes overrated anyway. Isn't it stressful? It makes me eat really fast so that I can be the first to dig into all the best parts and pieces. You know the ones - the crispy edges, the fudgier bit, the part with the most chocolate... Successful sharing is a skill. You need to be quick, nimble and decisive. Am I completely selfish or totally insane? (Don't answer that).

Plump sour cherries poached with cinnamon and a splash of brandy sitting nice and cozy over a moist buttery, caramely almond filling... This is my idea of warm during these frigid winter nights. Sometimes I wonder how a dessert without chocolate can be that good. But it can. This is. (But go ahead and put chocolate on it anyway).

Sour Cherry & Vanilla Bean Frangipane Tart
Makes about 5 tarts

For the tart cherry filling:
150g whole pitted dried sour cherries
1 cup (237ml) water
2 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp Brandy
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp water

For the almond cream:
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (75g) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
¾ cup (75g) ground almonds
2 tsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Make this pastry and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Roll the pastry out to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 5 to 6-inch rounds. Fit each round into a 4 inch mini tart pan and transfer these tart pans to a baking tray for baking. Chill, prick with a fork and bake at 400°F/200°C for 12 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool.

To make the cherry filling, combine cherries, water, sugar, brandy and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Place pan over medium-low heat, cover and cook while stirring occasionally until cherries become soft and plump. Whisk corn starch with water and add to cherry mixture off the heat. Return to heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Once boiled and thickened, remove from heat and let cool. Discard cinnamon stick.

To make the filling, cream the butter and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the egg and vanilla bean paste vigorously until smooth. Stir in ground almonds, flour and salt until combined. The mixture will have a dropping consistency.

Spread the filling evenly into the pre-baked tart shells. Spoon cherry mixture over the filling and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until filling is puffed and evenly browned.
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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Three-Quarter Pound Chocolate Cookies

This is my way of saving holiday chocolate bound for the pantry abyss. I know this happens. Oh it hurts to think about it. Sometimes I see chocolates from Christmas pasts like ghosts creeping on to the dessert table on the following Christmas eve. Why? How can we live knowing that there is recycled chocolate filling festive candy dishes all around us. Chocolate deserves to be eaten in its prime just like anything else. It dies the second it meets the pantry. It dies along with last year's birthday sprinkles, pumpin pie spice mix and stale oatmeal.

Don't let chocolate die this year. Throw it all into these cookies and I promise they will live a short but very very sweet reincarnation.

Exactly as it reads - you will need 3/4 of a pound of chocolate (that's 12 ounces) to make 20 totally decadent cookies. Semi- sweet or dark chocolate will work here based on what you like, what you have stashed up and how passionate your friends are. If you have plenty of the dark stuff then you have a lot of love abound. If all you have is milk, well then you might want to get new friends.

There isn't much butter going into this cookie dough because hey, I think we've done enough damage with the all the chocolate.

Just 4 tablespoons of soft butter gets creamy with white and brown sugar. We need two eggs and 8 ounces of that chocolate, melted. Flour, baking powder and salt go in. I like to add cinnamon and ground ginger but you can certainly leave it out. Just don't skip the salt. It works. Believe that.

This is very much like a brownie batter than a cookie dough, but with a cookie dough method. It will be smooth and very soft, almost runny so it needs time in the fridge to thicken. It will firm up like fudge and thats when you can roll it into balls and bake. Feel free to leave the mixture in the fridge overnight if that suits you better.

The result is chocolate turned into more chocolate. The reward is moist fudgey centers with a shiny crackly crust.

Right now I'm hoping your new year's resolution involves reading or travel and not the shaming of delicious things. Delicious is the best part of life so don't let it slip away.


Three-Quarter Pound Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Makes 20 cookies

340g (12oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate, divided
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.

Melt 8 oz (227g) of the chocolate and set aside to cool. Coarsely chop remaining 4 oz (113g) chocolate.

Sift flour, ground cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt in small bowl.

Beat butter with both sugars and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Stir through melted chocolate until well blended.

Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture and fold it in until combined. Stir in chopped chocolate. The mixture will be more like a thick batter than a dough. Refrigerate for just 10 minutes to thicken, but don’t forget about it or it will harden up.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking trays, spreading them 2 inches apart.

Bake for  8-10 minutes or just until cookies are set, shiny and cracked on top. Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on tray before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hazelnut Butter Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

The peanut butter in my pantry feels very uncomfortable right now.

I have all sorts of chocolate going on but I chose hazelnuts for it instead. It's not a forever decision, but it is a solid and delicious one. As much as I hold PB&C so close to my stomach, I freaking love it with hazelnuts. They seem like a much classier option even though they are equally tasty. How did they sneak past peanuts in the status line and score the sophisticated reputation? Just lucky I guess.

Right now I am in Italy spending the holidays with my Italian family. So far I think I have eaten a whole barn's worth of cheese and more cured meats than is probably recommended. I just drink olive oil and eat enough bread to start a bakery in my stomach. Vino rosso runs through my veins. It all sounds so sexy, but really I'm just full all the time.

Hazelnuts are considered the perfect mate for chocolate in this part of the world and I have never tasted them so sweet as they are here. I go nuts for this combo which is named "gianduja". It's a creamy soft combo of hazelnuts and chocolate much like the famed Nutella. Any product that makes it acceptable and common practice to spread chocolate on bread ranks high in my books. So for today we will leave the peanuts aside and shine the light on other nuts.
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Homemade Milano Cookies

Growing up I had a pretty endless supply of snack food. There was a chip cupboard way up high that kept a steady supply of Cool Ranch Doritos and sour cream & onion Ruffles. There was the deep freezer stacked with Napolitan ice cream, chocolate ripple and the occasional Tiger Tail. Packaged cookies weren't my go-to, but I was a sucker for Fugee-O's, and Milano cookies were a total splurge. They were probably the only cookie bold enough to feature dark chocolate in a land of milk, and the only cookies to come in a matte paper packet.

Still I can't resist these cookies.

A classy combination of chocolate and vanilla...

They're light in texture and on the palate. You can look forward to crisp when warm and fresh, and then they will come soft and tender as they keep.

This is also a great way to use extra egg whites after you've made lemon curd or an Italian Crostata.

It starts like a normal cookie dough with creaming soft butter and sugar. Mix in the egg whites and then sifted dry ingredients to make a moist and slightly sticky batter.

To shape these the traditional way you need to pull out a piping bag or even a heavy duty freezer bag with the corner cut off will do.

Pipe logs down a parchment lined baking tray. The moist dough will form little peaks as you lift up your piping bag and that's no look for a professional. So dampen your finger with water and tap down those pointy tips to form a smooth surface.

Bake until just lightly golden around the edges. Once cooled spread dark chocolate between two cookies. Don't be light here - the best bittersweet 70% chocolate is what you will need.

They are best fresh so bring some to your neighbours and share the tenderness.


Homemade Milano Cookies
Makes about 48 halves or 24 sandwich cookies

1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour (next increase slightly to 160g)
1/4 cup (30g) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (120g) icing sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1/4 cup (60ml) milk

85g/3oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Place the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in half of the egg whites slowly, followed by a few spoonfuls of flour mixture. Beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in remaining egg whites and then fold in remaining flour until just combined. Fold in the milk. The mixture will look like thick cake batter. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the cookie dough into a piping bag fitted with a wide plain tip. Pipe 1/2-inch by 2-inch ovals onto the parchment, giving yourself at least an inch between each oval as the cookies will spread and rise in the oven. Bake 10-12 minutes or until browned around the edges and lightly golden at the surface. Transfer baking tray to a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, gently melt chocolate and spread between two cookies. Let set and enjoy like a kid again!
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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Bars

There are so many things about my family that are terribly stereotypically Italian. Every family event has a lasagna - birthdays, communions, confirmations, graduations and holidays. My Zia always makes canolli. My nonno made his own wine and we all drank too much of it even though it could put you under the table after one glass. Everyone speaks too loadly and makes exaggerated hand gestures. Nonna never thinks you've eaten enough and we never have turkey at Christmas. However, the one thing that is terribly Canadian is that my mom always bakes a cheesecake for dessert.

I am one of those people who gets the cheesecake addiction. It's cheese + sugar + eggs... its like a giant cheese custard. I am all over it. Eating half of a cake made of mostly cheese in one sitting seems painful and impossible, but I can achieve it. I'm not too proud. Zero will power.

You know the cheesecake episode of Friends? That's real.
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gingerbread & Chocolate Layer Biscotti

Two-for-one deals are such great gimmicks. Sell me two flavours in one and I'm had! It takes the work out of decision making and saves me some anxiety. Food decisions are my nemesis! You know that person who's like, "Can I have a single scoop, but can you do half and half?" That is so me and the answer is "No", typically accompanied by the stink eye or an eye roll. Forgive me.

Then there's always that question "what is the last thing you would eat before you die?" Well I'd probably die before I could come around to deciding so I would just die hungry.

Today I couldn't decide if I wanted gingerbread or biscotti. Solution: make both at the same time, and make it with chocolate too. Can I do the same thing with my dirty dishes? Can I use them and clean them all in the same effort? Somebody figure that out for me...

This season is best characterized by hot drinks. Hot cocoa, hot toddies, spiked hot coffee, Chai tea, mulled wine, hot apple cider... Coffee never tastes better to me than it does when there's frost on the windows and a snowy dust on the trees. Annnnd, it's a perfectly appropriate excuse to enjoy a few biscotti.  I believe it is a sin to let any coffee go unaccompanied by a cookie or two in December.
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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Honey Fig & Apricot Frangipane Tarts (The NEW Fruitcake)

We all know the story about fruitcake. Nobody likes it except for grandma and nobody makes it from scratch anymore because if nobody wants to eat it then why go to all the trouble?

But dried fruits are one of the delights of winter baking and why not give them another chance at delicious with something other than a heavy wet cake? I vote tarts, and since it's my blog, I win!

When it comes to dried fruit, apricots have got to be my favourite. Then follows figs, cherries and I am one of those weirdos who loves prunes. Gotta stay regular.

Apricots are sweet and tart. They have great texture and are so versatile. I put them in cookies, granola bars, breads, muffins and cakes. They match very well with anything chocolate. In this recipe I've paired them with figs and frangipane not just because I like the letter "F" but because it tastes great.

Frangipane is an easy and universally appealling filling made from mostly almonds and butter. It is best described as an almond cream and can range from super soft to slightly firm and chewy depending on the ingredient proportions. More sugar and butter means softer and creamier, although it can be on the greasy side. More almond and even a pinch of flour means a firmer set with more of a bite. I prefer the latter. You can pair frangipane with almost any fruit - pear, apple, peach, plum, cherries, chocolate, cranberries... Yes, chocolate is a fruit. Well, it was before it became chocolate. It's complicated.
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dark Chocolate & Almond Rugelach (AKA amazing Christmas cookies!)

If any cookie got the shaft in the naming department, it would definitely be these completely underrated cookies... Rugelach. What a horrible name. I'm sorry, but it sounds more like a warning than a treat. I think the name is derived from the word crescent somehow, in some language, but they certainly got the short end of the stick after Croissants and even Kipferl which sound way more festive.

So if you've never made Rugelach simply for fear of having to pronounce it to your guests and accidentally offend them, then you need to face those fears. These cookies are so damn good and actually so darn easy to put together. They are buttery, rich and melt-in-your-mouth. The dough is more like a pastry than a traditionall cookie dough and is a delight to work with. Cream cheese makes them taste incredible but it also lends a heap of dense protein which makes the dough really pliable and workable. It should roll out smoothly if it is well rested.
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flourless Oozy Peppermint Patty Cake

Right about now my bag of all-purpose flour is giving me the stink eye. It's wondering why the heck I haven't touched it in a month. I told it to relax, "You will get some action soon enough", I said. It nodded and went back into the pantry. Did that just get weird?

This is my last post for No-Wheat November and gluten will be back in the spotlight in time for Christmas. But, right now let's focus on the grand sight in front of us. This cake.

It's hard to believe that I don't like chocolate mint combinations by looking at this post. Imagine the best chocolate cake you have ever had and mash that thought up with gooey creamy minted white chocolate ganache. It is basically a chocolate party and mint just totally crashed.

Truth is, I do like chocolate mint when done right! By right I mean with dark chocolate and with lots of it. Milk chocolate and mint doesn't work for me. It's just sweet on sweet.
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coffee Oat Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten-free)

When dealing with gluten-free baking we need to look beyond the almighty all-purpose wheat flour. Scary. All-purpose flour is so perfect because it is just that - it's multi-purpose, one size fits all, life is easy. 

Shopping for gluten-free flours is intimidating because there are actually many many options. We have white rice flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, amaranth, soy flour, potato flour.... The problem is that all of these alternative flours have different properties and they will all function in their own way in your recipe. 

No other single wheat-free flour can be as multi-functional or as glorious as gluten-filled wheat. GF recipes almost always require a blend of flours in order to provide all of the functional benefits of wheat flour. That is, starch for water retention and structure, protein for water binding and batter thickening, gums for thickening and water retention. 

You can expect gluten free recipes to have a longer ingredient list. Hey, there's a lot to live up to the power of wheat. BUT, it can be done.
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Roasted Peanut Meringue Cake with Sticky Chocolate Mousse

Not only am I due for a chocolate & peanut combo recipe, but I have one that is fancy and flourless.

After last week's post and the kick-off to another month of gluten free recipes, I received a few questions about where to find fine rice flour. The answer is at Asian food stores. You can even check the international aisle of your local supermarket. It usually comes from Thailand and is most commonly used to make fresh rice noodles.

Luckily you can skip a trip to the shop today because this recipe uses ingredients thst you probably already have on hand!

Technically speaking this dessert is called Dacquoise - dry crisp rounds of nut-based meringue layered with shmeares of something creamy. In this case I've chosen dark chocolate mousse for reasons that are so obvious. Chocolate + peanut = rainbows and unicorns. It's a happy feeling.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Gluten-Free Fudgy Chocolate Almond Cookies

Being told I can't eat something? That would piss me off.

Being told that I can't eat something that is a vital ingredient to all of the foods that I love? Don't even!

I am very happy that I do not have any food aversions because it would really piss people off. I would be a huge hazard to society since I have zero will power and would still eat everything. There would probably be frequent trips to the doctor. I would be a horrible nuisance to our health care system. 

Food is my friend, not the enemy. So for people who have to look at certain foods as pain inducers, that makes me sad! Especially when we're talking about warm chocolate chip cookies, butter cakes and flaky pastries. No! I won't have it. 

I am glad I can eat wheat. But, if you can't, I want you to still feel like you can. Kinda like vegetarians who eat fake meat - except this isn't fake. It's just good.

In honour of Christmas and the spirit of giving, I'm going to bake gluten-free for the month of November to help you prepare for your cookie exchange. Because we all know there will be someone who goes doesn't eat wheat in the bunch. Maybe you are that someone.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Bakery Style Quadruple Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins

I learned recently that listening to your husband sometimes is useful. I also learned that if I ever encountered a great white shark in the ocean or a black bear in the woods I would most certainly be dinner. I can admit that I am probably the last person you'd want around in a physical crisis.

One time I was a first hand witness to a cyclist getting hit by a car at a busy intersection. He literally got slammed right in front of me and flew off his bike. All I did was stand in front of him lying painfully on the ground, pointing and yelling "Your leg is broken!" (His leg was not broken). Seriously, not helping...

Open water has always been my biggest fear. It's not our territory. We are not fish. It feels like I'm intruding in someone else's home. I just don't know what's down there! It's deep and dark and there are things with spines, stingers, sharp teeth and suction cups. I feel much more comfortable on land.

All that said, I've developed an appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world and have taken a liking to snorkeling. The bright colours and strange creatures excite and intrigue me, but I can't help but still swim with extreme reluctance as if some angry octopus is going to come right up to me and tell me that I'm disturbing his mealtime.

I'm pretty comfortable in deep water now. I really really enjoy snorkeling and seeing how incredible nature is. I've been lucky enough to swim with turtles, spot squid, lobster, shrimp, a seahorse, clown fish, sting rays and many other tropical fish. I even swam with sharks, and jumped into the water surrounded by bright pink jellyfish. I'm taking more risks in the water and feel like my confidence is growing. I finally felt like I overcame my fear.

And then last week happened. I was snorkeling happily and peacefully until I took a brief glance to the right and not even 20cm from my head was a black and white striped sea snake rapidly slithering right towards me and it eventually touched my shoulder. All that crossed my mind was the previous time we spotted one of these snakes deep in the ocean, Jonathan mentioned to me that they are very poisonous.

Well, at the moment this venomous snake touched me I completely lost my marbles, came above water, flayled my hands in the air and full-blown panicked. I actually threw Jon right in front of it between me and the snake... I'm not sure what that says about me but he didn't seem to share my stress so I figured I might as well make him useful. He just laughed at me and said "Good find". Yes, good job for spotting the sea snake. Apparently it won't bite me if I don't bother it. Sure. Ok.

Because I need to recover and regain my strength to re-enter the water, I need the comfort and cheerful endorphins that chocolate brings. Nothing brings back my courage and spirit like chocolate and Nutella. Let's throw them both in a bowl and make some muffins!

I'm talking chocolate coming from four different ways: melted dark stuff, cocoa, Nutella and chocolate chips! I'm serious when it comes to stress relief.

I also don't need a challenge right now so this recipe is easy. Anything that starts with melted chocolate and Nutella has to be good. I don't care if you squirt it on a hot dog - it will be delicious. Until I make a Nutella hot dog... then I might eat my words...

Like any great muffin story, you don't need any equipment to build these. It's all hands on deck today. You will need to dirty three bowls though. It will be worth the clean-up.

1) Melted chocolate and nutella in one.
2) Dry ingredients in another.
3) Eggs, oil and milk in the third.

Bowl 1 goes into bowl 3. and bowl 2 gets folded in last. The nice touch is some chopped toasted hazelnuts over the top before baking. They will spread out with the batter create this dramatic earthquake-like crust. I also love the crunch that will give you even more reason to only want to eat the muffin tops. As much as I do enjoy exploring the ocean floor, muffins are so much better than sea snakes.

Bakery Style Quadruple Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins
Makes 8 large muffins

85g (3oz) dark chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (85g) chocolate hazelnut spread
1 ¼ cups (175g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup (60ml) sunflower oil
½ cup (118ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
113g (4oz) dark chocolate chips
50g roasted chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line 8 wells of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases.

Melt dark chocolate and chocolate hazelnut spread together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl. Add sugar and salt and whisk to blend.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and oil until very smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla, then stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Fold together gently, adding chocolate chips halfway through mixing. Do not over-mix.

Divide mixture between paper cases, filling them almost full. Sprinkle hazelnuts over top and press them down lightly so that they stick. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. These are best enjoyed warm!

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