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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Chocoholic's Discovery

Have you ever heard of Nutella®? Pronounced “new-tell-uh”?
This is hardly my first trip around the food bowl but this was something new to me and my humans. Made with just three simple ingredients—hazelnuts, skimmed milk and cocoa, it has this wonderful chocolate flavor and spreads like peanut butter. In fact, it’s in the stores right next to the peanut butter.
Now being of the feline persuasion I really don’t do chocolate but my humans love it so consequently this led to some research on uses for this heavenly tasting spread. It was created in the 1940’s by a gentleman named Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker. At that time in history there was very little chocolate to be found because cocoa was in such short supply due to World War II rationing. So Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts to extend the chocolate, which were plentiful in the Piedmont region of Italy. It made a wonderful spread for pastries.
Once again our experimental kitchen goes in to action and this time around we’re talking chocolate factory. None of this obviously resulted in any yummy munchies for me but after awhile this place really smelled good.
Seems we found us a brownie recipe using this fantastic spread along with a bit of peanut butter, cocoa, etc. Wow! If only I could be human long enough to consume such treats. Oh no, all I get is chicken, beef or fishy flavor treats! These brownie perfections were fudge-like in the center, absolutely melted in your mouth, probably a sin somewhere to eat them. And we don’t talk calories around here so if that’s a concern you better just blog off!
Yes, brownies were a huge success but the story does not end there. Once the brownies all disappeared there was a chocolate withdrawal happening so back to the internet in search of yet another recipe using this new-found spread. Alas, a recipe for homemade cupcakes was printed out for trial and error...resulting in mostly unexplainable error. Very simple, short and sweet list of ingredients for yellow cupcakes adding a dollop of Nutella® to the center of the batter swirling it into the batter with a toothpick and bake.
The instructions couldn’t have been any easier and were followed carefully, yet the “batter” was more like a thick yellow spackle. So to add that dollop of spread and swirl it throughout ...well, that just didn’t happen since the consistency of the Nutella® was almost as stiff as the spackle…’er, I mean batter.
In fact, these cupcakes went in to the oven looking as ugly as they did when they came out. There was no light and fluffy to these babies. I’d bet between the dozen that were baked they must have weighed a pound or more. There was one attempt made to eat one and we’ll refrain from further description. They were laid to rest the following morning in the garbage.
But wait, not wanting to declare defeat a second attempt was made and this time using a cake mix so the dollop of spread actually could be swirled into the batter quite easily.
After 25 minutes they came out of the oven looking picture perfect. Lovely golden yellow light and fluffy cupcakes. However, those yummy dollops of chocolaty flavor that was so carefully swirled into the batter mysteriously wound up as a chocolate blob stuck to the cupcake paper underneath the cupcake. Comments were heard to how good they tasted and what a nice surprise at the bottom of the cake. I’ll say surprise alright.
Maybe the world of baking is trying to tell us to just stick to spreading this stuff on pastry and just let it go people!

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