If you've already tried yesterday's Cold War Brownies then you know that sometimes cheese and chocolate are meant to be together. I never knew it until I tried Tiramisu for the first time outside the U.S. I had always thought of Tiramisu as a cold coffeeish nothing with bits of lady fingers drowning in it, until I had a brick-sized piece for dessert one night when we first moved to Sofia.
And that's when I knew I had misjudged mascarpone.
Hazelnut Mascarpone Brownies
250 grams Mascarpone, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts, skins removed (toast until they become fragrant and a little golden, then rub with a towel to remove skins)
135 grams chopped chocolate
4 TBSP butter
3/4 cup flour
2 TBSP cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts, skins removed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8" square cake pan with parchment. (Ignore my photos, I used a big pan and multiplied the recipe because I couldn't find an 8" at the store.)
2. Put the softened cheese into a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs with sugar, beating with a spoon or a mixer if you have one until light and fluffy. Add to the Mascarpone. mix well. Mix in lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/4 cup chopped roasted skinned hazelnuts. Cover and refrigerate.
3. For the batter, melt the butter with the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water on the stove. Stir together until combined and remove from heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in (yet another) bowl until light and fluffy. Fold in the chocolate mixture. Mix in baking powder, salt and cocoa. Add flour and combine until smooth. Finally, fold in hazelnuts.
4. Spread batter into your lined pan. Take the filling out of the fridge and spread it over the batter. Pull a large wooden skewer (or knife) through the layers in figure eights to create a marbled effect.
5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Do not over bake. Let cool before cutting, but be sure to eat at least a little bit while it's still warm!