Inspiration – Noun
1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
2. The quality of having been so stimulated, especially when evident in something: “a moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull display”
3. The result of reading a variety of blogs and spending time on Pinterest.
I sometimes think that we become over saturated with inspiration. I read a lot of blogs, spend a bit too long on Pinterest and am surrounding by cookery books and magazines. I am inspired by so much and so many people. But acting on that inspiration can be a different story. If I’m honest with myself then I only do something with that inspiration about 10% of the time. It’s as if there’s too much I want to make so I end up making nothing.
Occasionally an idea or a blog sticks in my head though and I *have* to do something about it. Kathryn at London Bakes writes one of those blogs. She clearly has the same desire to eat as much cake as possible as I do but takes a bit of a healthier approach, using the better fats and more natural sugars. It’s something that I want to get on board with but have previously found the thought of healthy, or healthier, cakes a bit of an oxymoron and recipes that I have read have seemed far too virtuous to lead to anything tasty.
I want my cake to taste like cake and be good for me. Or at least be not as bad for me. I want it all when it comes to cake.
I’m slowly moving across and thanks to Kathryn’s inspiration I have been experimenting with baking with olive oil a lot more. A while ago she blogged these toasted hazelnut flourless brownies and the idea stuck. I already use ground almonds a lot but have never set out to consciously change how I bake one of our staples. I bake brownies often, there are several versions on this blog and I’m not saying that I will never bake them with flour again, but using ground hazelnuts will now be our norm when it comes to brownies.
It may be the area where we live – rural Lincolnshire can make sourcing ingredients interesting at times – but I can’t get hold of ground hazelnuts. Doing them yourself is easy enough though. Preheat the oven to 200c and lay the nuts out in a single layer on a rimmed baking tray, roast them for 5 minutes until nicely browned, keeping a close eye on them as they can go from toasted to burnt very quickly. The skins should easily rub off with either your fingers or by rolling firmly in-between a couple of tea towels and then grind in a food processor or mini chopper. I tend to toast a few more than I need at a time to allow for the odd close to burning one.
I ground mine in the Breville 3 in 1 blender I had been sent to review. Given that my mini chopper is one of my most used bits of kitchen kit I was interested to see how this would compare. With a larger chopping bowl than I’m used too, it made short work of the nuts, reducing them to a very fine grind quickly. It’s noisy but not unbearable and the additional balloon whisk and cup could come in very handy.
For some reason I surprised that my ever faithful brownie recipe adapted so easily. A straight swap of flour for ground hazelnuts and a change in the cooling process and I ended up with the most beautifully moist, fudgy brownies that I have ever baked. They are rich and almost decadent. I struggle to eat more than one. My mother, who is neither a cake or chocolate person, demanded the recipe. The hazelnut flavour isn’t overwhelming but it’s defiantly there, a spoonful of the batter is not that far off eating Nutella straight from the jar, baked the flavour hums nicely along.
The lack of baking powder was a pure accident. I forgot to add it the first time I made them, realising as I shut the oven door. I preferred them without and, as baking powder can contain gluten, the absence makes these a good gluten free option.
They keep wonderfully well and, like most brownies, get better over of the next couple of days. They aren’t healthy. They are still loaded with butter and sugar but they are a step in the right direction.
Using ground hazelnuts instead of flour these brownies are wonderfully moist with a fantastic fudgy texture.
- 180g butter
- 200g dark chocolate
- 220g light brown sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 75g finely ground toasted hazelnuts
- 50g cocoa
- Preheat the oven to 180c fan and line an 8 inch by 8 inch brownie pan with greaseproof paper.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together, either slowly in the microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. If you are using the bowl over a saucepan approach ensure that the bowl does not touch the water.
- Add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and mix well again. Tip in the ground hazelnuts and cocoa powder and mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be relatively thick. Scrape into the prepared pan and level the top.
- Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle will come out with a combination of batter and crumbs clinging to it and there will be a slight wobble to the centre when shaken. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, still in its tin. It will firm up as it cools. Cut once completely cold.
I have also used a combination of milk and dark chocolate (100g of each) and in some ways prefer that, they are less intense than when made with all dark.