Recipe: Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cake Brownies.

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That’s a long name right there.

The recipe I started with was simply called “Nutella Cake.” But what I ended up with was so much more. It was snowing, and I really wanted to bake something, but I wasn’t about to go back out to get any missing ingredients. I found a recipe for Nutella Cake in my binder. It looked like something someone probably gave me, but it was very vague and it seemed to be missing some key details, like how to mix the ingredients together (did it matter in what order?) and what temperature to bake the thing at (when in doubt, go with 350). It also called for Nutella (obviously) which I thought I had, but it turns out all I had was this:

salted caramel hazelnut spread (not Nutella)

salted caramel hazelnut spread (not Nutella)

Although this was clearly not Nutella, I deemed it a suitable replacement, and marched onward with the cake. Upon further investigation, I realized that the recipe called for butter – a lot of it. I, alas, had only a little. Refusing to leave my house in the snow, I improvised, replacing most of the butter with shortening. The batter seemed awfully thick, more like brownies than cake, but I didn’t let that dissuade me from baking it. When it was done baking, it definitely looked more like brownies.

not nutella, not cake.

not nutella, not cake.

It smelled pretty good, and appeared to have baked properly, so I went with it, and waited for it to cool. When it finally cooled, I sliced into it, and sure it enough, it was definitely more brownie-like.

definitely brownies.

definitely brownies.

The next step was to eat one. And then another one. And then another one. They were THAT good. Two people even said they were the best brownies they ever had (wow!). Even though they were neither Nutella nor Cake like the original recipe claimed, the Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cake Brownies were definitely a major success, and will be made again. Maybe I’ll even make them for my own wedding this Spring….and now you can make them too!

wedding worthy.

wedding worthy.

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cake Brownies.

What you’ll need:

1 box of chocolate cake mix

1 egg

4 oz of shortening

———–

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)

2 oz butter (half a stick)

2 oz shortening

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 cup Jif salted caramel hazelnut spread

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg and shortening. The batter will be thick. Grease a 9×13 pan, and spread the batter across the bottom (using your hands makes it easier). Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and shortening until smooth. Mix in the sugar and salted caramel hazelnut spread until there are no lumps. Pour mixture evenly on top of the cake mixture in the pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cake starts pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely, cut and serve.

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The Brussels Chocolate Shop Tour, Stop #2: Planete Chocolat.

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It was still lightly snowing when I left the first stop, Galler Chocolatier, and began making my way to the second chocolate shop on the list. Little did I know, I’d only have to walk a few short blocks to reach a place that was “simply different” – in a simply wonderful way. I patted myself on the back for doing such an efficient job with the mapping of the tour as I turned the corner and was greeted warmly by none other than….

Stop# 2: Planete Chocolat.

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As soon as I peered through the window, I realized that they weren’t kidding – they really ARE simply different. The first thing that I saw to support this statement was the most charming little chocolate punchbuggy.

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beep, beep!

As I began making my way around the store, I noticed other fascinating objects, crafted entirely from chocolate. There was a fish…

what do you call a fish with no eyes?

what do you call a fish with no eyes?

….and the cutest chocolate shoe that I almost couldn’t resist – I had to remind myself I only had two days in the city and I’d never be able to get it home intact.

do you have this in a size 7?

do you have this in a size 7?

In the very back of the store, was this somewhat odd and out-of-place seating area. I strolled back to investigate, and off to the left, in the direction of which the seats faced, was a creepy life-sized scene behind a glass wall that looked like colonial Americans toiling on some domestic craft (chocolate making?). I can’t recall exactly what it was all about,  I was too creeped out to take a picture of it, so now I’ll never be sure, which is probably for the best.

take a load off fanny.

take a load off fanny.

I will guess that this whole setup had something to do with the chocolate making workshop they host and to which the polite young fella behind the counter invited me to attend later in the day. If only I had more time.  Speaking of the counter, I finally circumnavigated the entire shop, and wound up at the counter, ready to make my purchases. I wanted some of the fun shaped chocolates they had, but I also fell in love with a glamorous little red box, and had to buy it, without even knowing what was inside. I had complete faith it would be great. I was right.

sometimes you can judge a box by it's cover.

sometimes you can judge a box by its cover.

What was in the  glamour box, you ask? Well it was an assortment of 6 chocolates, in unique shapes that reminded me of puzzle pieces. But it was the flavors that really made the box a winner – like Jasmine, Rose, Cinnamon and Caramel Mocha.

just delovely, and delicious.

just delovely, and delicious.

As for the chocolates I selected for myself, i chose half based on the cool shapes and half based on flavor. I just had to have the chocolate lips (which wound up being strawberry cream filled but not the gross kind you find in boxes of chocolates in the states that you bite into and wish you had chosen more wisely – this was actually rather tasty). I also opted for a pistachio flavored chocolate and a white chocolate hazelnut. Yum and Yum.

make her open the box.

make her open the box.

All in all, Planete Chocolate was by far the most fun shop on the tour. There were so many interesting and quirky things to see, you can’t help but smile when you walk in. And then again when you walk out and taste the chocolate brilliance that unfolds in your mouth with each bite.

To be continued in the next post: Stop #3: Leonidas – it may be a chain, but it’s one worth wearing (or tasting).