February 6, 2011

Chewy Hazelnut Chocolate Blondies with Nutella - World Nutella Day

There are many unspoken taboos in my household.  Nutella is one of them.

Unfortunately, I love Nutella.  I've got a whole pile of recipes that use the delicious hazelnut-chocolate spread stashed away, begging to be baked, but I have been unable to answer their pleas.

UNTIL NOW.  Yesterday, the 5th of February 2011, I celebrated World Nutella Day.  (Seriously, who comes up with these days of celebration?  Whoever they are, they're awesome.  I praise you for bringing Nutella to my life.)
Mum was browsing through Foodgawker, came across a promising recipe and learnt of World Nutella Day.  When she told me about it, I asked when it was.
"The 5th of Feb," she said.  I looked at my diary.  OMG IT'S TODAY.  Abandoning my plan to watch The Parent Trap on TV, I rushed to the supermarket to buy Nutella with Mum's blessing.

Here's what I made: chewy hazelnut chocolate blondies.  Nutella Blondies for short.  With some suggestions from Mum, I made my first major adjustments to a recipe and I am pleased to say that these blondies came out amazingly.  Chewy, dense, hazelnutty, chocolatey, slightly crunchy and (most importantly) covered in Nutella.  Oh yes.

Recipe Adapted From: Cooking Canuck
Ingredients (21 x 31 cm (8 x 12 inch) brownie tin)
105g flour
100g hazelnut meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter or salted margarine)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (it shouldn't matter if you don't add this)
150g butter/margarine
100g Nutella
170g brown sugar
230g white sugar
2 eggs
3 cups rolled oats
60g hazelnuts
80g chocolate chips

For the topping:
Lots of Nutella.  I didn't weigh it, I just piled it on and spread it.  Yeah, I'm so precise, I know.
60g hazelnuts
60g choc chips

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.  Line a 21 x 31 cm (8 x 12 inch) baking tin with baking paper.

2. Whisk together flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and Nutella until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

5. Add the flour mixture gradually, in about 3 lots, mixing between additions.

6. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

7. Mix in the rolled oats, chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts into the batter.

8. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and flatten with a spatula or spoon.

9. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.  The top of the blondies should be golden brown, but the middle shouldn't be dry.  You want to keep the blondies moist and chewy.

10. Let cool in the pan then lift the blondies out to cool completely.

11. Now you need to prepare the topping.  Using a food processor, process the chocolate chips (60g) until there are some in chunks and some completely grated 'dust'.  Add the hazelnuts and process until the hazelnuts are in rough chunks.  Don't process for too long!

12. Spread Nutella onto the top of the blondies using a knife.  The thickness of the topping is up to you!

13. Sprinkle the ground hazelnuts and chocolate onto the top of the Nutella and press down lightly so they stick.  Make sure all the Nutella is covered.

I mainly devised this topping so that the blondies wouldn't stick to each other when I put them into the box.  It worked.  Genius plan!

14. Chop the big blondie bar into squares or rectangles or whatever shape you want, really.  I chopped them into large squares but Mum sneakily made them into smaller rectangles when I wasn't looking.

15.  Eat.

Happy Nutella Day!

February 5, 2011

Honeydukes and Harry Potter World

First of all; Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Chinese New Year!  I hope that everyone's holidays were fun and that you had a sweet new year.  I apologise for the long time without posts, but I'm totally going to make up for it with all the amazing photos I've got for you!

On my holidays, I visited Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Castle and Honeydukes.

Look, it's Hogwarts!
...No, not the real one, unfortunately.  Since I'm a die-hard Potterfan, I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.


It was so awesome that I can't even convey the awesomeness over the internet.  Hopefully some of you people that read this are also Potter-obsessed and can associate with my excitement.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (or Harry Potter World in short) is a part of the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park.  It's rather small; 17 football fields in size, apparently.

Walking through the soaring gateway at 8am with a sign depicting a hog and the words 'PLEASE RESPECT THE SPELL LIMIT' above was truly magical - yes, magical; corny but true.  A replica of the Hogwarts Express belched steam just beyond the gate and I felt like I was walking into the quaint little village I had read about in the Harry Potter books.  The roofs of all the slanting buildings were even adorned with 'snow'.

There are 3 different rides; the Flight of the Hippogriff, a small roller coaster; the Dragon Challenge, a high speed thrilling roller coaster where two 'dragons' (full of screaming people) twist and turn around each other; and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, a mixture of '4D' visual adventure and real sets that travels around Hogwarts and through the Forbidden Forest.

All kinds of Potter paraphernalia can be found in Ollivanders, Honeydukes, Zonko's and Dervish & Banges.  Wands were one of the main reasons I wanted to come to HP World, and Ollivanders didn't disappoint.  The cluttered room piled high with wand boxes was just like the Ollivanders in the book and movie.  The wands themselves, made of resin, are surprisingly heavy and look incredible.  I love them.
There are many other cool things - sweets in Honeydukes, random bits such as Fanged Frisbees in Zonko's and everything else (Hogwarts robes, mini cauldrons, broomsticks) in Dervish & Banges.

Now, the pictures.  I took my Canon EOS so the photos look good!

There were a couple of huge kegs full of butterbeer scattered around Hogsmeade.

Honeydukes, the sweet shop, was adorable and had all kinds of goodies inside.

Ton-Tongue Toffee...

Stuff in jars...

Various hard lollies...

Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans...

Here's the Three Broomsticks eatery - it's connected to the Hog's Head pub at HP World.  The interior was really realistic.  I especially liked the soaring roof with beams and walkways crisscrossing the air.

I hope your New Year was as good as mine!