Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies

I can't believe it's been a month since I posted any new dessert recipes. I guess after all of my holiday baking I took somewhat of a break from desserts and focused more on cooking, as well as bringing back some favorites from the past. Last night, however, I had the perfect excuse to bake something new as my family came over to see pictures from my parents' recent trip to Australia.

These brownies turned out to be a huge hit amongst my family members and were received with much more enthusiasm than I had anticipated. That's not to say that I didn't think they would taste bad; I was just surprised at how much everyone loved them and how many questions I received about them.

The original recipe called for making the brownies in an 8" x 8" pan but my pan was occupied at the time. However I used my super math skills and calculated that using a round cake pan with a 9" diameter would yield the same result without me having to adjust the quantities. True, the baking time was slightly less but that just made the whole thing faster and by using a springform pan I was able to just pop the entire thing out and slice it like a cake instead of into squares, as is typical of a brownie.

The truth of the matter was that the recipe was super easy and kind of reminded me of a cheater's version of a double layered chocolate mousse cake. The espresso flavor was quite pronounced in the mousse but I think it complimented the nutella well. My only complaint would be that I felt the brownie layer was too dense compared to the airy mousse and it felt like two separate desserts in my mouth. My mom, a lover of dense, fudgy brownies did not feel the same. I would have paired the mousse with a lighter, more cakey brownie and I might try that in the future.

Nutella Espresso Mousse Brownies
Note: I used a 9" springform pan and therefore my "brownies" turned out to be more of a cake. The directions posted below reflect the original brownies, meant for an 8" x 8" pan. If using a 9" round cake pan, keep the quantities the same and decrease the baking time by 5 minutes. 

For the brownie layer:
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
For the mousse layer:
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • ¼ cup nutella
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the instant espresso powder in the melted butter until dissolved. 
  3. Add the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. 
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. 
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixture just until incorporated then pour into a well-greased or parchment lined 8" x 8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  6. To make the mousse: dissolve the instant espresso in the hot water and then whisk with the nutella. 
  7. Beat the heavy cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Take a spoonful of the whipped cream and whisk into the nutella espresso mixture to loosen it. Add the mixture to the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold in with a spatula until no streaks remain.
  8. Pour the mousse over the cooled brownie layer and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours to allow the mousse to set then remove from the pan and cut into squares.

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