Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nutella goodness

I'd like to start this post with a shout out to my blogging companion:

Foxy likes to sit on that side of me while I use the computer, because my laptop churns out heat on that side. Sometimes it gets so hot that it just shuts off mid-use. I usually work on it with a wrought iron plant stand underneath to try to allow some air circulation underneath.

Okay, so... Nutella! I love Nutella. Mostly because it makes me nostalgic for my trip to the Netherlands. I ate it on toast almost every day there. (For anyone who doesn't know, Nutella is a chocolate-hazelnut spread. In Europe it seems to be as common for spreading on breads as peanut butter is in the US.)

I had seen a recipe for Nutella sandwich cookies online and had been wanting to make it. Tonight was the first session of a new 'season' of bible study at church, so I decided to use that as an excuse to bake.

Here is the recipe:

Gianduia Sandwich Cookies

1 cup Nutella
1 egg
1 cup self-rising cake flour, plus additional for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Mix 1/2 cup Nutella and the egg with an electric mixer until well combined. Slowly add 1 cup of flour until a wet dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a flour-dusted board.

3. Knead gently, adding a bit more flour if necessary; dough will be sticky. Roll dough into 18 balls, flouring your hands as needed to make rolling easier. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, several inches apart.

4. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Split cookies in half horizontally using a sharp, serrated knife (see note below). Spread bottom with 1 teaspoon Nutella, replace top and press firmly. Let cool completely. Store in a tightly covered tin.

5. Note on flour: I didn't have self-rising cake flour, so I mixed 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt with regular cake flour before adding it.

6. Note on splitting the cookies: I had a problem with a couple of the cookie tops breaking a bit when I first started cutting them. I then tried it this way and had no more problems: turn the cookie on its side and carefully score the entire outside edge while turning it like a wheel, then gently cut the rest of the way through the middle.

This recipe was easy enough with only three ingredients, except that I didn't have self-rising cake flour... in fact, the store didn't sell any variety of cake flour, so I got self-rising all-purpose flour. (By the way, those 'notes' in the recipe above are not from me.) Not sure if that was a legitimate substitution... the cookies didn't spread at all while they baked. They just stayed as little balls just as I had rolled them and cracked slightly. And the actual 'sandwich' assembly was kind of a pain in the butt. But I deemed them tasty enough to share, so I took them to bible study with me tonight.

When I mentioned what they were, Kate (one of the group participants) said that she has a theory that "most women love Nutella, and most men don't get it." As soon as most of the women heard what the cookies were, they said "Ooh, Nutella!" and lunged for them, thus proving part of Kate's theory. (There were no men there to confirm the other part... when I see Jason at home later I'll try to remember to ask him what he thinks of Nutella.)

I mentioned to the group that I probably wouldn't choose to make that recipe again. When asked why, I explained that the cookie part was dry and bland and that its only appeal was as a vehicle for getting the Nutella into my mouth (a complaint I had seen from others in reviews of that recipe online). Someone (I think it might have been Kate again--I like her) said, "Yeah, next time just bring the jar of Nutella and some spoons."

I had also seen another dessert recipe using Nutella, and I wish I had made that one instead, although I don't know that it would have transported well. It was a dessert ravioli from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network, and it was basically wonton wrappers folded around Nutella, fried, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum! Maybe I will try that one someday when I feel like doing something extra special.

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