Ashraf and I used to live on the second floor of our bakery (shophouse awesomeness and nightmare all at the same time!) and it was sooooo convenient to have all the equipment and ingredients readily available on hand every time I wanted to try a new recipe! Now that we have moved into a cosy little space we call home (till our shoebox BTO is ready), I often find myself missing out essential ingredients and even equipment needed to try out new recipes!
"Oh crap I'm missing the chocolate for the brownies I want to bake"
"Oh shoooot! This recipe calls for a mixer!"
Sigh, really took things for granted there, didn't I? Yes, somewhere, somehow along the way after all that packing and moving, this baker chose to buy pretty things like a marble kitchen towel dispenser and a geometric metal fruit bowl but doesn't have a mixer at home. GASP! THE IRONY OF IT ALL! But not to worry, mixers galore back at the bakery and I am saving up to buy that dream mixer for home use really soon. (Spent too much on home decor and holidays lah guys.)
For you guys who do not own a mixer OR an oven (I FEEEEL YOUUU!), fret not, this recipe is for you. It's chocolatey, crunchy and nutty all at the same time! It has a crunchy base with a smoooooooth and melt-in-your-mouth ganache sitting on top of it. And just to make it like a gazillion times more enticing and pretty, let's sprinkle some crushed hazelnut brittle on top of it! I like to use dark chocolate for this as the addition of Nutella and the brittle adds on to the sweetness of the bars and the dark chocolate beautifully balances the whole thing. However, you can use milk chocolate or mix both together if you prefer a sweeter and milkier bar.
It uses one of my favourite crunch ingredients of all time- feuilletine. It's essentially delicately fragile and paper thin bits of toasted crepe-like biscuit that has a one of a kind texture that I find totally addictive! We use this in the bakery for our ever popular sea salt feuilletine chocolate tart. If you live in Singapore, you can find it at baking supply stores such as Sun Lik ($5 for a packet) or Kitchen Capers. Unfortunately, your neighborhood Phoon Huat or NTUC does not stock this amazing ingredient. And oh! Bonus! If you have leftover feuilletine, PLEASE POUR SOME MILK OVER IT AND EAT IT IMMEDIATELY FOR AN IMMENSELY PLEASURABLE CEREAL EXPERIENCE! Feuilletine turns to mush pretty fast when mixed with liquids so my advice is to inhale it all as fast as you can. If you can't get your hands on feuilletine, you can always substitute it for cornflakes BUT, the texture will not be the same.
After its assembled, you can cut it into bars or squares or you know, heart shaped ones if you are talented at sculpting (I don't have the patience). I like them in small kit-kat sized bars as these babies are rich (woah chocolate hitting you in every direction!) and I feel that having them in bars makes just a nice serving of chocolatey goodness. But hey, chocolate lovers, no one will judge you for not cutting it at all and just picking up the whole slab and eating all at one go with your fingers!
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FEUILLETINE JEWEL BARS. Adapted from: www.thekitchn.com
makes one 9X13 tray
for the crust:
170g dark chocolate, melted
For the filling:
226g dark chocolate, chopped into smaller pieces
1 tsp salt
1 cup cream
56g unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
For the brittle topping:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
For the crust, line a 9X13 pan with greaseproof paper, with sides overhanging to act as handles.
Stir the melted chocolate and Nutella in a large bowl till smooth. Pour feuilletine into the bowl and fold in till combined. Scoop out the mixture onto the paper lined pan and use a rubber spatula or even a spoon to press in and smoothen out the mixture into an even and smooth layer. Chill the pan in the fridge while you make the filling.
For the filling, place the dark chocolate and salt in a bowl that is heatproof. Bring cream to a boil in a small pot over the stove or in the microwave (in a microwave-able bowl of course!). Immediately pour it into the bowl of chopped dark chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two to allow the chocolate to melt. Add the butter and whisk till smooth. For you pros who want to make the ganache super smooth and sexy, you may use an immersion blender.
Take the crust out of the fridge and pour the chocolate ganache mixture over it. Smooth it out into an even layer with a spatula. Transfer to the fridge for 2 hours until set.
In the meantime, make a dry caramel. Line a baking tray/ sheet pan with greaseproof paper. Heat the sugar in a small pot/ saucepan over medium high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to constantly move it around the pan- you want it all to melt and caramelise evenly. Cook and stir until the colour is a deep, dark amber, about 3-5 mins. Once it has reached your target colour, stir in the hazelnuts and make sure the nuts are coated with the caramel. Quickly dump the contents of the pot onto the prepared pan and spread it out as thinly as possible. Let cool completely.
In a ziplock bag (with a heavy rolling pin) or food processor, break the brittle up into tiny little pieces. You don't want them too big coz you won't want anyone to chip a tooth! You can store the brittle in an air tight container in a cool dark place.
Once the chocolate is set, take it out of the fridge and cut them into small bars with a hot knife (torched or dipped in hot water). Sprinkle hazelnut brittle on top and slightly press down on it so it will stick to the surface of the chocolate. Keep stored in the fridge and serve chilled!