The Pie Notes

A celebration of life with a touch of sweetness

Tag: hazelnut

Something for Your Sunday – Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

Chocolate. Hazelnuts. Pie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie full

 

Good combination, right?

I thought so, since Nutella is my absolute favorite food in the world.

If you don’t like luscious gooey chocolatey nutty goodness, it may be best that you exit this post at this time.

The thing is, I ate all the Nutella a while back and haven’t gotten around to restocking the pantry with more.

But we did have hazelnuts and chocolate chips! It’s all about making do with what you have.

This recipe is an incredibly easy “one-bowl filling”.

I made my favorite Pate Brisee pie dough as the sturdy, buttery, and flaky foundation.

Pate Brisee unbaked

And the best part is that the recipe makes two 9-inch dough rounds, so I just froze the other one for a rainy day.

The original recipe for this pie calls for bittersweet or dark chocolate chips, but I used semisweet and didn’t think it was overly sweet; however, milk chocolate would probably bring way too much sweetness to the table. Just go with whatever you have stashed away in your pantry and I’m sure it will be a success!

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie half

The best way I can describe this pie is like pecan pie’s sophisticated cousin. The chocolate chips melt with the corn syrup (the main ingredient in pecan pie) and the hazelnuts impart a nutty, earthy, almost exotic flavor. Make sure they’re still a little chunky when you add them to the filling. You want that crunchy texture.

I like this recipe because I prefer to save pecan pie for the fall, namely Thanksgiving. Well folks, as much as I would love for a cool breeze in this Southern heat, it is not happening any time soon. Although, I have been hearing Christmas music on the radio for the past couple days which blows my mind. I used to think that playing those songs before Thanksgiving was odd. They are taking “Christmas in July” to a whole new level.

Anyways, here is an all-year-round pie for you! You can listen to Michael Bublé Christmas while you’re eating a slice – you know you want to.

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie 1

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie 2

This one is going straight in my recipe box.

 

I’ll leave you on that note. Pie awaits me…

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie close up

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

A Nibble of “cioccolata”

This afternoon at the university, I attended a guided tasting tour of Italian chocolate by Francine Segan, a noted food historian, public speaker, and author.

She has been featured on Food Network, Today, and in multiple magazines around the world, among many other things!

I don’t know what was more fascinating–the history of the decadent treat we all know and love, or Ms. Segan herself.

Her vibrant personality and extensive knowledge of all things culinary captivated us all. I have to be honest…sometimes my mind drifts during ‘lectures’ even if it is on a topic in which I am interested, but not this time!

I have never heard much in the past on Italian chocolate in particular. I always figured Belgian or Swiss chocolate was supreme. Ms. Segan informed us of the significant footprint that early Italian chocolatiers had on the chocolate we enjoy today (every single day if you’re anything like me!).

They were the first to take the cacao bean from other European countries (who mostly enjoyed it with sugar) and transform it into an ingredient that could be used in savory dishes, and even pair it with other complimentary flavors such as orange and hazelnut.

In fact, Italy has an additional classification of chocolate. The typical white, milk, and dark chocolates are joined with another type–Gianduiotto. 

 

Its upside-down boat-like shape is made up of a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar, and hazelnuts. I knew I liked Italians. We didn’t taste this little beauty, but something tells me it could rival Nutella!

Fortunately, we did taste a variety of authentic Italian chocolates, from white to extra dark to stone ground Sicilian chocolate with a lovely hint of orange. The latter was my favorite–nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. Unlike the others that melted on my tongue rather quickly, this one required a bit of ever-so-slight chewing. The amazing thing was that after, literally, two chews, it instantly melted, coated my mouth, and left behind a few tiny chunks of the chocolate. It reminded me of the reason we add nuts to our desserts, because we want texture, right? Here, the chocolate itself added the texture, all because of the delicate and quite laborious way it was processed. Go Sicily!

And a fun fact: In Hershey’s early days, when they were still trying to figure out how to stabilize milk, they began selling chocolate with slightly rancid milk. Think about the last time you ate a Hershey’s kiss–it had a twinge of sourness, yes? Once they implemented the new way of stabilizing, the customers didn’t like it! So, a tiny bit rancid (but completely safe) milk it was.

Overall, it was a very pleasurable experience. I was delighted to meet Francine Segan and hear about her journey, as well as converse with other food lovers in attendance.

Chocolate really is a wonderful thing. Appreciating good chocolate and savoring its flavors makes quite a difference in your experience of eating it. I am so grateful to have opportunities like this to learn more about ingredients, others, and even myself!

***Update: Last night, I threw in a square of leftover Italian dark chocolate from the event (how it lasted that long I have no earthly idea) into my spaghetti sauce, and I have to say that it was the absolute BEST sauce I have ever made. I usually add a dash of sugar to cut some of the acidity, but I just added the chocolate this time. It offers such a depth of flavor that you can’t get from granulated sugar. Perfection. Please try it.

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