As the end of the year approaches - and with it the end of my college career! - I find myself feeling sentimental, getting preemptively nostalgic. One of the ways I've found to cope is, of course, baking. I've been asking my friends to request baked goods - old favorites for me to bake one last time, new things they want to try while they still have a baker friend at their immediate beck-and-call. These brownies are one such request.
The trick with these brownies was to capture an authentic flavor, both for the brownies themselves and the strawberry frosting. Too many Nutella brownie recipes i came across said something to the effect of, "You can't taste the Nutella, but it sure makes them fudgy!" Um...what? What is the point of a Nutella brownie if you can't taste the Nutella???
The strawberry frosting was an issue too. Adding fresh strawberries (or any fresh berries) to frosting - to achieve the most authentic strawberry flavor - can be dicey. Berries have so much water in them that it can totally sabotage the consistency of your frosting, and you'll end up with something runny and thin instead of fluffy and thick.
Luckily I found a solution to both dilemmas. First, I found a Nutella brownie recipe that called for a full 1 cup of Nutella (most asked for 1/3 or at best 1/2 cup) - and very little else. In fact, there are so few ingredients in these brownies other than Nutella - just 2 eggs and 10 tablespoons of flour - that I was skeptical about how they could possible turn into actual brownies.
Somehow, they did! Quite thick and soft ones, at that. And oh boy, the Nutella flavor is not messing around. I mean, with as much Nutella as they have in them, they really didn't have a choice but to taste exactly. like. Nutella. Win.
As for the frosting, I found a recipe that brilliantly uses freeze dried strawberries - all of the fresh strawberry flavor we're looking for without any of the frosting-destroying water. Score! I will be using this as a template for any and all berry-flavored frostings in the future.
So there you have it! Authentic almost-pure-Nutella brownies and strawberry frosting with that sweet bite of fresh strawberry flavor. It sure doesn't hurt that they're pretty to boot ;)
Nutella Brownies with Strawberry Buttercream
1 cup Nutella
10 tbsp plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp instant coffee, finely ground
Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease and line an 8 x 8 inch pan with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine the Nutella and eggs. Add the salt and coffee.
Mix in the flour until it is just incorporated, then stir through the white chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until the center is just set and the edges begin to crack.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup freeze dried strawberries
2 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
2 cups powdered sugar**
**I don't like overly sweet frostings, so I only used 1 1/2 cups. The consistency was still very thick!
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy 6 - 8 minutes, frequently scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Meanwhile, pulverize freeze dried strawberries in a food processor** until finely ground (wait about 10 second before opening food processor allowing the powder in the air to settle a bit. There should have 3 1/2 Tbsp of the strawberry powder). Transfer strawberry powder to whipped butter and blend mixture until combine. Stir in heavy cream followed by powdered sugar and whip mixture 4 - 5 minute longer on medium-high speed, until very pale and fluffy, frequently scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. For best results frost and serve within an hour.