the Great Recipe Experiment: #1-Gianduja Bars

677.  Six hundred and seventy seven.

A year in the 7th century?  Yes, it was.  The number of a Boy Scout troop in Washington?  Probably.  The number of hours that equal 40,620 minutes?  According to my desktop converter widget, yes.  It is also the number of recipes in my Evernote recipe notebook.  Or at least, it was a couple weeks ago…I’ve since added a few more.  13 more.  At that rate I’m going, I’ll be at magic number 700 before you read this blog post.

That’s a lot of recipes.  It doesn’t even include any of the recipes in any of the (46) cookbooks I have.  And I love it because I get an unholy amount of glee from finding, collection, reading and researching recipes.  However, it occurred to me that this is absolutely useless unless I actually try out some of them.  Sure, I make plenty…I mean, that’s evidenced in this blog already.  But I’ve barely scraped the surface of the glorious world of food stored away in my digital notebooks.

I wanted to do something about that.  But knowing me and my propensity for utter laziness, I knew I’d need some pressure.  So I posted on Facebook for volunteers to sign up to taste test some recipes and my friends, delightful fans of free food that they are, obliged me.  Thus the Great Recipe Experiment was born.

I collected the first of the recipes in December 2008—that was when I started adding things to Evernote.  They include chocolate thumbprints, peanut butter cups, Jamaican spice chicken, cranberry shortbread bars, asopao de pollo, brussell sprouts with pecans, peppermint patties and the gianduja bars, which I started with first.

I got this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian on the Food Network.  Gianduja is an Italian chocolate with hazelnut paste in it—for instance, the popular spread Nutella—and in this case, it acts as both a kind of frosting for the brownies and a tasty mat for the the crunchy topping of nuts and chocolate chips.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s really more of an idea—-and you don’t even have to make the brownies yourself.  Got a box of Duncan Hines?  Great.  Got a couple plain brownies you picked up at the store that you want to fancy up a bit?  Excellent.  Made some delicious brownies from scratch, perhaps using a recipe you got from a certain blog that perhaps you read like, all the freaking time….cough…..good for you!

For the brownie, I used the super-awesome-brownie recipe that I first tried out a few weeks ago.  You know that recipe I told you that you needed to make?  You really need to make them.  But anyway, I made the brownies and then proceeded to awesomize them (you like that word?  It’s a good word) by spreading a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on top—not a thick layer, just a good smear all over.

Then I mixed together a cup and a half or so of chocolate chips with a few handfuls of chopped nuts–I know the recipe and common sense says to use hazelnuts, and you’re welcome to, but I needed to use up a huge bag of walnuts my mother had gotten on sale and given to me, and so I used those.  I sprinkled the chip-nut mixture liberally over the hazelnut spread and….well, actually that was it.  Easiest fancified brownie ever.

Will it pass the taste test?  My coworker Susan will get them on Monday, and a few other people, so I’ll update this and let you know.  Josh and I did give the bars a try…I mean, how could I not?  And they were pretty good.  Rich, so I advise moderation.  Oh, and whipped cream.  I advise whipped cream.

Original Gianduja Bars Recipe

4 brownies (about 2 by 3-inches)
1/4 cup nutella
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (try a mix of white, semisweet, and milk chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spread each of the brownies with 1 tablespoon of nutella. Sprinkle each of the brownies with 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts. Top the nuts with 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips. Place the brownies on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until the chocolate is starting to melt. Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and let cool until the chocolate hardens, about one hour.

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2 thoughts on “the Great Recipe Experiment: #1-Gianduja Bars

  1. Doris

    Hey there, I was reading your article and I just wanted to say thank you for putting out such excellent content. There is so much junk on the internet these days its difficult to find anything worthwhile. I actually have cooked this recipe before, I got this book last month on recommendation from a friend and it turned out really nice! I’m very eager to try your variation of it though, it looks excellent. I think you might enjoy those recipes, they’re very good. Thanks for the article and great ideas.

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