I just cannot resist chocolate!
As you know, if you’ve been reading these posts, I’m not one to dabble in guilt. I eat what I want when I want it. I just happen to want a lot of things that are good for me.
Treats are part of life and healthy too. So, once in a while, I make desserts. Actually, my serious culinary life started with sweets on weekends. And I just love when my kids get that longing look and say “Mom, you could make those little bars…” 🙂
The bars in question were a smashing Rocky Road, recipe by my favorite Nigella Lawson. Making them was cheerful teamwork, where one was breaking the biscuits into pieces, and the other was counting 100 marshmallows. As for me, I was doing the science work: melting chocolate together with golden syrup. Now you get an idea of the thing 😉
Today, not one of us can even think about eating that Rocky Road, but it makes fun memories!
Maybe that’s why, when I started exploring Ella Mills’ latest book – Deliciously Ella With Friends – one of the first recipes to catch my eye was a Rocky Road recipe. I courted the method for a while and, then, I decided to try it.
One of the main ingredients is cacao butter. Well, I found this a bit intimidating because, although it is the base of every chocolate, I had never seen it as such nor cooked with it.
However, nowadays all the organic supermarkets, and many of the regular ones, carry all these new types of ingredients, so it’s not hard to find. By the way, make sure you choose organic AND also “Fair Trade” certified. We don’t want to have our little luxuries at the expense of others.
Another thing with Ella’s recipe was the presence of raisins. I do like them, and I even eat all my share on New Year’s Eve. But, in chocolate, I find them too sweet. An adaptation was necessary!
I made several experiences, all of them successful. But, finally, I found MINE! The one I saw to be worthy of sharing here, with the Glow Chef signature.
Chocolate & Hazelnuts: my favorite!
From the original, I kept the process and the ingredient base. The flavors are all different, in my quest for my favorite chocolate flavor: chocolate and hazelnuts.
The process is easy. It starts with two intermediate steps: toasting hazelnuts and melting the cacao butter. They are both easy, provided you don’t get distracted. A word of advice: use the timer on your phone; it’s ideal for keeping track of time when roasting nuts.
You can also roast your hazelnuts in the oven. I don’t tell you to do it here because I think it’s a waste to turn on the oven for such a small quantity of nuts. Do it if you prefer, or if you’re roasting other things at the same time.
After, it’s only food processor work and an hour in the freezer.
These bars have been a success in different geographies, with people with various degrees of proximity to me. So, it’s safe to say that the compliments are honest, not just my kids being kind!
The Chocolate and Hazelnut Rocky Road tends to disappear quite fast, here at home. Let me know if the same happens in yours 😉
Chocolate and Hazelnut Rocky Road
for a square brownie pan, 20*20 cm
- 300 grams Medjool dates
- 200 grams rolled oats (I choose gluten-free)
- 100 grams organic cacao butter
- 100 grams hazelnuts, toasted and without skin
- 50 grams pumpkin seeds
- 50 grams sunflower seeds
- Two generous tablespoons of hazelnut butter (organic or homemade)
- Five tablespoons organic raw cacao
- Five tablespoons organic maple syrup
- One pinch of sea salt
Line a 20*20 cm brownie pan with aluminum foil. Not being ideal, it allows for easy removal of your bars, when ready.
Open the dates lengthwise and remove the pits. Break the halves apart to make life easier for your food processor.
Place the hazelnuts in a skillet, over medium heat. Do not grease the pan, please.
Let it heat up. Rock the pan to move the nuts and let them toast equally all around. As hazelnuts are quite thick, it can take up to ten minutes to attain that irresistible aroma that tells you they are perfectly roasted.
Turn off the heat. Move the hazelnuts from the pan onto to a dry kitchen towel, to let them cool down and also to remove their skin. Bend the towel over the nuts and rub, applying a little pressure. Just like when you’re rolling your pastry. As they lose their skin, move them to a clean dish. This way you have more room to insist on the stubborn ones. You don’t have to achieve perfection, a bit of skin will not be noticed.
Place the cacao butter in the skillet you just used and let it warm up over the lowest heat you can get on your stove. The butter will melt in less than 2 minutes. Turn off the heat immediately.
Put the toasted hazelnuts and the oats in the food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of coarse sand. Add the dates and both seeds. Pulse again, for one or two minutes, until you see that the everything is minced down to small pieces.
Now, add the raw cacao powder, the salt, the maple syrup, the hazelnut butter and the melted cacao butter. Pulse two or three times again to mix all the ingredients.
Place the mixture into the lined pan and press well. Pay particular attention to the corners. I use a wooden spoon at this time. Cover with a bit more of foil and freeze for an hour.
To remove the Rocky Road from the pan is easy: just pull the foil, and it will come. Let it warm up for a few minutes before cutting your pieces.
I find I have been decreasing the size of my Rocky Road pieces over time: I started with 1.5-inch squares, and now I’m doing little rectangle bars, just about the size of 2 chocolate squares.
Free download: you should get the free planning sheets from Glow Chef, so you can easily plan your shopping and cooking, and maybe try this delicious Rocky Road!
Photography: Ana Pereira da Costa