Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is high in antiinflammatories and antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, and may help maintain cognitive function.
This week’s recipe is for Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Squares, a company favorite. The recipe was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She began sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes and testing of new recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has since become a company tradition.
Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification, and love.
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Squares
Gourmet Magazine (December 2001)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, loose skins rubbed off (see Notes), cooled (raw shelled hazelnuts are bland; roasting intensifies their unique flavor. Hazelnuts are also covered in a slightly bitter brown skin that can be difficult to remove. Two methods for skinning them are provided below. Alternatively, you can also buy roasted skinned hazelnuts at Trader Joe’s)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- 6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (use a good chocolate, such as Valrhona or Callebaut)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (use a good chocolate, such as Valrhona or Callebaut)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and sides of an 8-inch square metal baking pan, then dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess. (Note: You can use a pan with a removable bottom and run a little hot water over the sides to unmold after the ganache is firm. Otherwise, line the pan with foil so that it extends beyond the top to make “handles”.) Finely grind roasted hazelnuts in a food processor with the flour, sugar, and salt. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan, then remove it from the heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, whisking until smooth. (Note: The mixture should be thick and smooth like frosting; overwhisking is not a problem here.) Stir in the nut flour until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven until the top is firm and dry, but a tester inserted in the center comes out with crumbs adhering (15–20 minutes). Cool completely in the pan on a rack at least 2 hours.
- Lightly beat the egg yolks. Bring the cream with salt just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, then add half to the yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Whisk the yolk mixture into remaining cream and cook over low heat, whisking, until slightly thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F (do not let boil). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking until smooth. (Note: It helps to let the chocolate and cream sit for a few minutes to start the melting process. Then stir to mix; whisking can cause the cocoa butter to separate from the solids and come to the top.) Pour the ganache over the base in the pan, smoothing the top with an off-set spatula, and chill, covered, until firm, at least 5 hours. (Note: An off-set spatula is not really necessary. Just move the pan quickly back and forth and/or whack it gently on the counter to smooth the ganache.) Cut into squares with a warmed thin knife, wiping after each cut, and remove from pan while still cold. (Note: It helps to remove the entire finished dessert from the pan prior to cutting. It is then much easier to end up with neat even squares.) Serve cold or at room temperature. Can be stored chilled for a week or frozen for a month.
Here are two good ways to skin hazelnuts:
Toast and Rub Method
The Oregon Hazelnut Industry recommends roasting hazelnuts at a lower temperature for a longer time than other nuts. Preheat oven to 275°F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place the sheet in the middle of the oven. Roast the nuts for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly colored. Take care not to over roast since the nuts can scorch quickly. To remove the skins, wrap the warm nuts in a kitchen towel and let them steam 5–10 minutes. Rub vigorously in the towel to remove loose skins (don't worry about skins that don't come off) and cool completely.
Boil, Pinch, And Roast Method (Alice Medrich, Cocolat)
Bring a saucepan half-filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, add 3 Tbsp baking soda (the pot will bubble up rapidly!), then the raw hazelnuts. Let the nuts boil for 3–4 minutes. The water will turn inky black, and a reddish foam will start to appear on the surface. To check if done, use a slotted spoon to remove 1 nut and transfer it into a bowl of cold water. The skin should slip off between your fingers as you “pinch” the nut. If not, let the nuts boil for another few seconds and try again. Put the skinned nuts aside to cool and dry completely. Roast the nuts as above until golden brown in color; they should have a rich nutty flavor with no bitterness.