I firmly believe that all desserts should involve chocolate, fruit, or both. Is there any other type? Even if it contains just a shred of citrus zest?
Anyway, I digress; this has to be the easiest treat to whip up and although I’ve seen versions of this recipe containing raisins, glace cherries, etc, I think this is more sophisticated and its perfect served with a foamy cappuccino or espresso.
Offer people one piece each to start with as it’s very rich but quite wonderful. They’ll probably ask for a 2nd or 3rd.
Dark chocolate and hazelnuts were made for each other and this is so easy to make that even a supervised child or resistant non-cook could create this in 15 minutes.
Notes at the end – how to melt chocolate successfully.
CHOCOLATE & ROASTED HAZELNUT CRUNCH BARS
(Makes approx 20)
2 ½ oz / 65g of whole hazelnuts
5 oz / 150g of best quality dark chocolate, chopped or chips
5 oz / 150g of Graham Crackers or McVite’s Digestive Biscuits*
5 oz / 150g of unsalted butter
Good pinch of sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C
Line a 7 inch / 18 cm square tin with baking parchment.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake in the oven until lightly toasted, approx 8-9 minutes. Rub them in a clean dish towel to remove most of the skin then coarsely chop.
Break the Graham Crackers/Digestive Biscuits into approx ½ inch pieces.
Combine the chocolate, butter and salt in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water – once melted, whisk to blend thoroughly.
Stir the chopped nuts and cracker/biscuit pieces into the melted chocolate mixture to coat well then press it all down into the lined baking tin, smoothing the top.
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes then invert onto a cutting board and cut into fingers.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, they’ll be good for several days and they freeze well.
If you’re fortunate enough to find McVite’s Digestive Biscuits*, use those… they’re British ‘cookies’ and are superior to Graham Crackers.
Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate chips work well, or cut up a block of Sharffen Berger…anything but Hershey.
When it comes to melting chocolate, there are a few rules to prevent it from ‘seizing’ – that is, ending up as a hard, lumpy, grainy mass – rules as follows:
• Never melt chocolate over direct heat; it will seize.
• Butter or oil can be added to chocolate before or after melting.
• Chocolate can be added to a large quantity of hot liquid.
• Chocolate can be melted with a small quantity of liquid (such as a liqueur or espresso) but if you add the liquid after you’ve melted the chocolate, it will seize. If this happens you might be able to save it by adding a small amount of oil.
• Chocolate melts best when it’s chopped into equally sized pieces.
• Never heat chocolate to more than 110F / 44C, which is why it’s best done over a pan of barely simmering water, or over water that’s boiled then taken off the heat. Make sure the bottom of the bowl containing the chocolate doesn’t come into contact with the water.
Cover the chocolate in the bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes then stir.
If there are still un-melted pieces, increase the water temp again, turn off the heat and place the bowl of chocolate back over the hot water and allow it to sit for another few minutes, covered. That should do it!