Chocolate & Nutella Rockslide Bars

Chocolate Nutella Rockslide Bars

You might remember the avalanche bars I made a while back… I certainly haven’t forgotten them. And I’ve always thought a chocolate & Nutella version would be simply smashing. I even decided to call them Rockslide Bars (the darker counterpart of the creamy white Avalanche bars) long before I ever made them.

The original recipe has had a bit of a resurgence in the past month or so, appearing periodically on my most popular posts list.

Seeing it there just made me crave them all over again.

I had attempted the semi-sweet rendition of these bars once before, but, as I quickly found out, it wasn’t quite as easy as substituting dark chocolate for the white chocolate and Nutella for the peanut butter. I’m assuming it is the softer nature of the white chocolate to begin with, but the chocolate version crumbled and shattered in a brittle mess. In the end it took a good bit of butter, some cream, and almost twice as much Nutella as peanut butter (you need more Nutella for the flavor to hold its own against the semi-sweet chocolate).

Chocolate Nutella Rockslide Bars

Folks, these bars will knock you off your feet. If you like rice crispy treats, you’ll love these. If you like chocolate bars, you’ll love these. Because what they are is something in between the two, like a crisp and fudgy chocolate miracle. With marshmallows.

You could add almonds or hazelnuts if you’re feeling nutty; that’d give them a true rocky-road flavor. You could swap out the nutella for peanut butter, almond butter, or even cookie butter. Mix in more chocolate chips or white chocolate chips or even flaked coconut. Really, there’s a mountain of possibilities with this disastrously delicious dessert.

Dare I say this is better than the original? I’ll let you decide for yourself.

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Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels sprouts are the new kale. Pecorino is the new Parmesan.

And this is quickly going to become your new favorite salad.

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

This salad was inspired by a similar dish at a new neighborhood restaurant called Rolf & Daughters. Their menu is filled with incredibly unique dishes, including one of the best plates of pasta I’ve had outside of Italy (don’t worry, we’re trying to recreate that, too!) Although, Taylor hesitates to make the same claim if only because of the portion size. They are indeed Lindsay-sized. Meaning, not enough for Taylor and his bottomless stomach. He’s made a running joke out of it, exclaiming that he’s been “Rolfed” whenever he feels gastronomically shortchanged.

Anyway, size notwithstanding, Rolf’s Brussels arrive in a mountain of thin shreds, piled even higher with Pecorino cheese. The tart apple mingles with the salty cheese and the paper thin sprouts lightly dressed in a simple concoction of cider vinegar, honey, and oil. The original salad includes toasted hazelnuts too, although we opted to omit them in our version.

The key to avoiding the typical Brussels bitterness is to slice them as thinly as possible. You can use a mandolin, although I don’t think they were designed for such odd shaped vegetables. A super sharp knife works best, just remember, you are shaving it, not slicing it. That’s how thin I’m talking here. Also, let the sprouts marinate for a while in the dressing, at least 15 minutes but 30 minutes or an hour would be better, bitter better better not be bitter. Or something.

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Chocolate-Glazed Almond Horns

Chocolate Glazed Almond Horns

Back in college, I had my between-class routine down pat. After spending 3 hours in an art studio class, I needed a recharger (aka sugar fix) before my next class. But being that it was only 10am, it was too early for lunch. I think it was Taylor who originally discovered these generously-sized almond horns in the campus bookstore, but once I’d had a taste it quickly became a daily thing: every day. 10am. Almond horn. So much better than a doughnut.

It’s been almost 6 years since I graduated and moved to Nashville, but I haven’t stopped thinking about those pastries.

Chocolate Glazed Almond Horns

I’m not sure why I never attempted to recreate these nutty crescents before now, especially considering how easy they were. Maybe the fact that I always called them crescents, and a search for “almond crescents” produces a list of recipes that don’t look anything like I remember. Turns out, they’re called almond horns. I’ve never seen a horn in this shape (toot toot), so why they are called that, who knows.

Oh. Duh. I just realized maybe the horn is referring to animal horns? Ok, maybe I could see that, but it’s still a stretch.

Appropriately named or not, they are surprisingly simple to make, requiring just a few ingredients: almond paste, egg white, sugar, and a bit of almond flour (naturally gluten free, if you care) and are then rolled in sliced almonds.

Granted, mine are a bit smaller than the ones from the bookstore, but the texture is spot on: crispy on the outside with added crunch from the sliced almonds, with a soft and chewy marzipan-like interior.

Maybe I need this 7lb can of almond paste so I can enjoy these daily without feeling like I have to squander each one of the precious six that one batch produces.

Soft Almond Crescents with Chocolate Glaze

The chocolate glaze is softer than if it were dipped in solid chocolate, which means you can bite through the soft coating into the chewy center underneath without shards of chocolate falling down your shirt. Almonds, maybe, but the chocolate yields easily with each bite. Think of it as something in-between a snappy chocolate coating and a gooey chocolate doughnut glaze. I guess you could go naked and skip the glaze, but I highly recommend you don’t.

They’re just like I remember from college.

But without all the homework.

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April Kitchen Challenge: Macarons

April Kitchen Challenge - Macarons You had to know it was coming. With a series called “Kitchen Challenge,” macarons were bound to be the subject sooner or later. So let’s just get it over with, shall we?

Technically I’ve attempted macarons before. I actually almost put a recipe for cookie dough-filled ones in the first book (but the fact that I could not get consistent results from my own recipe convinced me to take it out.) When in the company of my macaron making friend Tabitha, they look great, but I’ve yet to produce a truly successful batch on my own.

So this month, let’s roll up our sleeves and master Macarons, once and for all.

The Challenges:
  • Macarons vs. macaroons. We’re not talking about the rustic coconut kind, here.
  • The time. You’ll probably want to set aside a good 4 hours from start to finish. Seems like a breeze compared to the total time involved in croissants, eh?
  • The weather. Seriously. Don’t attempt these if it’s precipitating of any kind. Wait for a cool, dry day if you can. If you can’t, get out a fan and crank up the AC.
  • The ingredients. I found some reasonably priced and beautifully fine almond flour from Nuts.com. Very finely ground almonds work too, but either way, be sure you sift it first. As for the egg whites, I’ve heard older egg whites work best, although BraveTart debunks this as a myth. I’ve got a boat load in my freezer, left from all those batches of ice cream and hollandaise, so I’m all set there.
  • The method. French vs Italian. I’ll probably try the French this time, although I can say the Italian method, while more complicated, seems to produce more consistent results.
  • Double up. Be sure you have a set of two identical baking sheets, and stack them one on top of the other. The double layer will help your macarons bake more evenly.
  • Weigh it out. Most macaron recipes (you’ll notice), call for very specific quantities of things, measured in grams. My advice? Get an inexpensive kitchen scale and follow your recipe. There’s a reason they are so precise.

The great part of this challenge is the basic recipe is only the foundation, but the flavor combinations are endless. Experiment with different nut flours. Try adding powdered food coloring or freeze dried fruit or espresso powder to the shells. And the fillings? Well, the possibilities there are endless.

Needless to say, I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with!

Bouchon and Miette Macarons

From our recent trip to San Francisco: macarons from Bouchon (left) and Miette (right).

Resources

I have not yet decided which recipe/method I’m going to follow. Anyone have a favorite? A recipe or technique or tutorial they swear by? Do share it in the comments! But here are some good starting points for those looking to tackle this challenge:

Want to join me?

If you’re up for the challenge, attempt a batch of macarons by Sunday, April 21st. Send me a photo of yours results (good or bad). I’ll document my experience and also share the images/links to those who’ve taken the challenge as well. This challenge is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic if you’d like to spread the word! (Please upload it to your own server.)

Spatulas ready? Let’s go!