I very seldom make dessert so when I do it has to be special and there has to be a reason. February 5th has been designated World Nutella Day so what better excuse to have some chocolaty goodness and make dessert. Forget about counting calories and "Go Big or Go Home", as they say!!!!!
**Mascarpone Brownies with Nutella and Toasted Hazelnut Topping**
1 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room-temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan.
Add the chopped chocolate to a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and bring it to just below a boil. Pour the hot butter over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Sift in the sugar and cocoa powder (I do this through a sieve, not with a sifter). With a wooden spoon, beat in the mascarpone, eggs (30 minutes on the counter brings them to room temperature) and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Gently fold the flour and salt into the batter. Add chopped hazelnuts, reserving 1/4 cup for decoration.
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly--this is important since, if the batter isn't spread evenly, it won't bake evenly. Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean (45 minutes did it for me). Place pan on a cooling rack and let brownies cool for 10-15 minutes.
Spread Nutella over entire surface of brownies or cut into slices as I did and spread each piece with Nutella separately. Decorate with remaining chopped hazelnuts.