Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nutella Brownies

I came across this recipe on Leite’s Culinaria who got it from a Gourmet 1998 article detailing the history of gianduia, otherwise known as chocolate with finely ground hazelnuts, in the Piedmont region of Italy. The editors of Gourmet pronounced these “the best brownies you will ever taste.” I may not be the best person to critique, since brownies are not my first dessert of choice, but I gotta tell ya, these are pretty damn good. Besides the obvious ingredient of Nutella, the recipe adds in chopped bittersweet AND milk chocolate, AND a generous helping of toasted hazelnuts.

The icing on the cake here (so to speak) is the utter ease of the recipe. Everything gets combined in one bowl with the melted chocolate, and then loaded into a baking pan. Facilmente!

I served them to dinner guests,
along with coffee and after-dinner drinks, and they were pronounced a hit! They are everything I would want in a brownie: chocolaty (duh), nutty, fudgy, and oh so moist. So if no less an authority than the late, great Gourmet Magazine proclaims these the best brownies ever, who I am to judge? I’m just here to eat.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Flourless (Sugar-free) Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Photo: King Arthur Flour
If you are a regular reader of The Cook’s Tour, you know that when it comes to desserts, I am a full-on butter, sugar, all-in kind of girl.  But recently the hubby’s doctor advised him to cut back (way back) on refined sugars. This forced me to rethink things a bit.  I could continue to bake fabulous sugar-y desserts, which would be all too convenient for him to reach in the kitchen. Or I could look for recipes that either reduce or omit sugar altogether, but are still delicious (this is paramount!). Obviously, I chose the latter. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t bake with sugars for parties, friends, etc., but when it’s just to have some goodies around the house, a new regime is in place.

All this leads me to telling you about the wonderful cookies I discovered at King Arthur Flour and a sugar substitute called “Whey-Low.” This all-natural product is perfect for low-cal, low-carb dieters, type-2 diabetics, or just plain health conscious folks (and who isn’t these days?). For baking purposes, it measures 1 for 1 like regular sugar, which makes recipe conversion (or non-conversion in this case) super easy.  Whey-Low comes in several varieties, including substitutes for brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar. And that brings us to these luscious cookies, brimming with fudge-y, espresso-y goodness.

I’m a huge KA fan (don’t tell anyone, but one of the items on my bucket list is to spend a week in bucolic Vermont attending a KAF baking workshop!) and visit their site regularly for inspiration. A few weeks ago, I came across their Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies. At first, I made them according to the recipe, which calls for two cups of confectioner’s sugar. They were outrageous! But given the husband’s new mandate for no sugar combined with his serious chocolate addiction, I knew I had to try the Whey-Low substitute. I’m happy to report that they were still just as fabulous with the Whey-Low confectioner’s sugar. I also tried them out on a friend at work who is a serious connoisseur of gluten-free baked goods, and she declared them a winner!  And even though I don’t have any gluten or sugar issues, it probably doesn’t hurt to cut back where I can.

They are ridiculously easy to make, but a couple of tips I want to pass along to you: in order to obtain the soft, batter-like dough called for in the recipe, I had to use four egg whites, instead of three. I also made these smaller than the original recipe just because I am not a fan of huge cookies, but don’t let that influence you one little bit. Read the original recipe here.

Hope you enjoy these wonderful little cookies!  Drop me a note to let me know if you try them and how they turned out.

Happy Baking!