What did you do for New Year’s Eve? We spent the evening with dear friends. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and libations and good company. We brought oysters and dessert. Laury made an amazing Vietnamese caramel fish with rice and Asian vegetables.
As a decadent finale to the past month of indulgent eating, I made Gianduja Mousse from Food & Wine. That’s Chocolate Hazelnut in Italian.
This super-simple dessert was both light and rich at the same time. First, Nutella and crème fraiche are mixed together with some Frangelico. Next, you whip cream until firm. Finally, the whipped cream is folded into the chocolate mixture until fully blended. The mousse is spooned into individual serving dishes, and it’s dessert! I doubled the recipe, which is supposed to serve 4, which made a total of 6 bowls of mousse.
The recipe suggested serving the mousse with chocolate wafer cookies, which inspired me to make a batch of World Peace Cookies. While I’m not a huge chocolate fan, this recipe is so good that these are, hands down, one of my favorite cookie recipes. Another slice-and-bake recipe, so they are easy too.
The gianduja mousse was a hit! It’s a company-worthy dessert that I’m adding to my repertoire. Trader Joe’s has their own spin on a chocolate spread. Theirs is cocoa-almond. I plan to try a version of this with TJ’s cocoa-almond spread with Amaretto to see how that turns out.
The mousse having been enjoyed, now it’s time for some lighter eating for a while…
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is Nutella Tartine. A tartine is an open-faced sandwich, French-style. I think tartines are usually savory, but a nutella tartine is a typical after-school snack for French children.
For Dorie’s version, the main event is really orange marmalade spread on a thick slice of challah and then drizzled with nutella and sprinkled with some sea salt and chopped hazelnuts. The bread remains soft because it’s just toasted on one side, the spreading side.
The recipe was so simple, that it almost seemed like cheating. So, I thought it was a good opportunity to try out one of the recipes for homemade nutella that I’d seen. This was a good idea in theory, but when the melted chocolate cooled, it was no longer spreadable. I have to chip it out of the jar with an ice cream scoop. It gets soft and spreadable again when heated, but was not what I expected. I used bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate because that’s what I prefer. I don’t know if that’s what made it harden up.
I think some of my husband Howard’s food quirks have rubbed off on me. I don’t really like chocolate mixed with fruit flavors. So the flavor combination of the orange marmalade with the chocolate-hazelnut drizzle didn’t work for me.
I had a whole loaf of challah and the jar of homemade nutella, so for round 2, I tried spreading the nutella on the bread and sprinkling with chopped nuts and salt. Time for true confessions: I don’t like peanut butter on bread. I like it on a spoon or on something wet, like celery or apples, but not on bread. I know, this post is supposed to be about nutella, but it matters. Nutella is chocolate-hazelnut spread. Sort of like peanut butter, but with hazelnuts instead plus chocolate. The conclusion, I don’t like nutella on bread either.
At the same time, I’ve always been fascinated by this European concoction. One Valentine’s Day, I used it to sandwich heart-shaped shortbread cookies together, but other than that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly how to use it on a more regular basis. Any suggestions for using up the rest of my jar of homemade (and hardened) nutella?
One more helpful tip I wanted to offer up this week. I’ve never had much luck getting the skin off of hazelnuts just by toasting and rubbing with a towel. I seem to get less than 25% of the skin off that way. I saw a different method on TV that works like magic. In a large pot, dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda in 2 cups of water, and bring the water to a boil. Add up to a cup of hazelnuts, and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. The mixture will bubble up and look disgusting. The water will turn black. It’s ready when you can run a nut under cold water and the skin comes off. Drain the nuts in a colander and run cold water over them to cool. Now, rub them in a towel. The skin will come right off. Just be sure to use a much bigger pot than you think. The mixture will really bubble, and you don’t want it to overflow. It’s a mess to clean up (I speak from experience).
Each Friday, I make a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table along with other bloggers. If you want to see their take on this recipe, check out the links at French Fridays with Dorie.