In my quest to build my own line up of candies, I am experimenting with ingredients and techniques that may not always yield winning results. Under normal circumstances, I would be disappointed but I am uncharacteristically calm about it all. Every one of my experiments is lesson to be learned. I discover processes that work for me, ingredient substitutions that end up with unexpected results, weaknesses with my technique, and concepts that fail to live up to expectations. This week I’ll take you through a few not-ready-for-prime time candies and explain why I am unsatisfied with the results.
Nutella is a crowd pleaser so it is hard to go wrong with a filling made with the entire content of an economy-size jar. When I saw the recipe for Hip To Be Squares in The Liddabit Sweets Cookbook, my eyes lit up. Big batch and quick to make? Sign me up!
You may notice that my version looked a bit different from the photo of the recipe. Aside from the shape, I added a thin layer of wafer cookie on the bottom for additional structure. The real experiment was within the filling. The recipe called for feuilletine, crispy crumbled cookie shards that stay crunchy in creamy filling for amazing textural contrast. Unfortunately, this specialty ingredient is not easy to find for home cooks and a little expensive. I had an idea to substitute with the more commonly available and affordable Chinese egg biscuit rolls. And it works! The crumbled biscuit rolls remain crunchy even after four days (and counting). I am pleased with this finding.
Another challenge for this recipe was my ongoing battle with tempering chocolate. I cannot reliably temper chocolate at home and need practice. It took me four attempts before the chocolate was successfully tempered. Some friends told me it may be frustrating but once I get it, I would feel validated. Let’s just say she was absolutely correct about the frustration part. Using a stainless steel bowl as bain marie set up was good in the sense that it was responsive to temperature change. But once my chocolate was tempered, I had a ridiculously short window to work before the chocolate hardened into glossy shell. Perhaps I really ought to add mycryo to my dark chocolate just to let it stay fluid a little longer.
With my Crispy Creamy Hazelnut Bar, the top and bottom layered of tempered dark chocolate was properly shiny and hard. The filling of Nutella, dark chocolate, and crispy egg biscuit rolls was smooth and rich with hazelnut taste. What don’t I like about them? Well, the recipe included mild vegetable oil in the filling to help with texture. It leaves an oily feeling in my mouth that I simply do not like. Also I had trouble cutting the bars neatly. Since the tempered chocolate set up so quickly, I barely had time to cut the bars before the hazelnut filling got too soft to stand up to any knife action. In the end, I had to chill the whole pan until it was hard as a brick and used a warm knife to slice it neat. Even so, many of the bars did not survive intact and I had only a dozen good looking bars when all was said and done. That is a very low yield.
What would I do differently? Instead of a top and bottom layer of dark chocolate, I would rather dip the bars instead to create an all over coating. It would definitely help with the appearance and eliminate my frustration with slicing the bars. The oily feeling is more difficult to address. I can use (very expensive) hazelnut oil to enhance the flavour of the filling but I am not sure the oily taste would be gone. I can eliminate the oil all together for a firmer filling. I think chopped hazelnut would belong in this bar too. The next version would probably be something like:
crispy Nutella filling
dark chocolate ganache with toasted hazelnuts
dark chocolate all over
In the mean time, I have plenty of delicious rejects to share. Surely nobody would object to that.
For more Nutella treats at Dessert By Candy, check out:
- Nutella Pudding Icebox Cake
- Nutella Scones
- Nutella Buckeyes
- Nutella Banoffee Cream Pie
- Nutella Kuchen with Seville Orange Marmalade
- Kinako Blondies with Nutella Swirl
- Nutella Tartlets
- Homemade Nutella
- Chewy Sugar Cookie Sandwiches with Black Forest Filling
- Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
- Nutella Tartine