Nutella Shortbread Brownies

Nutella Shortbread Brownies 1With the homemade Nutella I whipped up recently, I had to find a recipe to showcase this chocolate-hazelnut splendor before I devoured the entire batch with a spoon. I was considering a Nutella cheesecake, but instead opted for something more handheld.  Don’t worry, with how easy it is to make Nutella at home, I’m certain to make a Nutella cheesecake soon.

Mmmm... homemade Nutella!
Mmmm… homemade Nutella!

I came across these two-layer brownies at Bake or Break, and boy are they a find!  The shortbread layer is crunchy and salty, with a buttery finish.  The brownie layer is rich and fudgy, with a deep chocolate-hazelnut flavor.  Each layer is good enough to hoard from your friends and loved ones, but together, the layers form a perfect synergy that demands to be shared: the shortbread provides a firm base for the gooey brownie on top.  When you take a bite, you get a nice pulse of salt from the shortbread, followed by the brownie coating your tongue with Nutella bliss.

Finally, an opportunity to use my grandmother's pastry cutter.  If you don't have one on hand, the tines of a fork make a good replacement.
Finally, an opportunity to use my grandmother’s pastry cutter. If you don’t have one on hand, the tines of a fork make a good replacement.
The shortbread dough before baking.
The shortbread dough before baking. You can use the flat bottom of a glass to pat down the dough to form an even layer. Make sure to get it into the corners of the pan too.
The shortbread dough after baking.  I love the brown swirling pattern on top.  I really had to muster up my self-control to keep from eating the shortbread on its own, but damn was it even better with the brownie layer on top!
The shortbread dough after baking. I love the toasty brown patterning on top. I really had to muster up my self-control to keep from eating the shortbread on its own, but damn was it even better with the brownie layer on top!

This recipe takes a little more time than traditional brownies, due to the two layers, but is completely worth the effort.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!  Depending on the dimensions of your baking dish, the shortbread layer may be thicker (or thinner) than you expected.  If you use a dish larger than the dimensions listed in the recipe, the shortbread layer may not be thick enough to support the brownie on top; just a warning.Nutella Shortbread Brownies 4 Nutella Shortbread Brownies 2

The Leaning Tower of Brownie
The Leaning Tower of Brownie

Nutella Shortbread Brownies

The shortbread base bakes up nice and flaky because of the pockets of cold butter, so make sure to bake the shortbread dough as soon as it's in the pan.

Ingredients

    For the shortbread base:
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (171 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • For the Nutella brownie:
  • 16 tablespoons (228 g) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. (227 g) bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa or higher)
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Nutella, divided (I recommend making your own: recipe here)
  • 3/4 cup (105 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (*see note below)

Directions

    For the shortbread base:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Mix in the cold butter with a pastry blender, or a fork, until the butter clumps resemble the size of pebbles.
  3. Pour the shortbread dough into an ungreased 9" x 13" x 2" baking pan. Use your fingers of the flat bottom of a glass to press the dough into a firm, even layer in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let the shortbread base cool.
  5. For the Nutella brownie:
  6. Melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate together using a water bath or a microwave. If using a microwave, heat at half power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until nearly all of the solids are melted. Stirring one last time will distribute the internal heat and melt the remaining solids without fear of burning the butter or chocolate. Allow the melted mixture to cool a bit.
  7. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter-chocolate mixture and the sugar. Beat until combined.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  9. Mix in the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the Nutella.
  10. Sift in the flour and salt. Mix until just combined and a streak or two of flour are still visible.
  11. Stir in the hazelnuts.
  12. Pour the brownie batter over the cooled shortbread base and spread evenly across the pan. Drop dollops of the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella on top of the brownie layer and swirl through the brownie layer with a knife. If you're using homemade Nutella and the consistency is more on the solid side, warm this last 1/4 cup until it flows a bit, before dropping it on top of the brownie layer.
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs. Place the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely before cutting into 2" squares.

Notes

The brownies will keep for at least a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

* To roast and de-skin hazelnuts: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’ve browned a little and the skins are slightly blistered. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible. Let cool completely.

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Recipe adapted from Bake or Break.

TheDessertStomach.com

http://thedessertstomach.com/2013/03/22/nutella-shortbread-brownies/

 

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