Thursday, September 9, 2010
Simple Dessert: Chocolate Hazelnut Crostata
Recently, I ran out of room on my cookbook shelf. I decided to comb through all of the magazines I've been saving for the past 15 years, pull out any recipes I actually wanted to make, and discard the rest. I couldn't believe all the room I had on my shelf when I was done! Life has changed big time since having kids, and many recipes I had saved no longer fit my lifestyle. As I trashed magazine after magazine, I recalled my grand plans for serving magnificent meals to friends and family. Then, entertaining was an event that involved an entire day of cleaning, cooking and planning, not to mention a week of menu planni ng and shopping. These days I'm lucky to find time to swish the brush around the commode and load the dishwasher before the doorbell rings. And if you're a really good friend, and I feel very comfortable with you (a.k.a. I've seen your dirty laundry too) I won't even bother with that. Because I know you'll love me anyway.
When I finished sorting, I only had five recipes in my hand--most of them involving chocolate. This recipe for a crostata was first on my list to try. The recipe came from a fantastic article from the November-December 2007 issue of Italian Cooking & Living -- a magazine that I believe has since gone to glossy heaven. The recipe is easy enough to bake on a weeknight and the finished product is pretty enough to serve to company.
The IC&L article gives step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to make a crostata, a history of crostatas and a half dozen variations on the dessert, as well as instructions on how to make the dough by hand, in a food processor or a stand mixer. The Type A in me groans in ecstasy at their thoroughness. The creative side of me decides to ignore their exact instructions and change it up just a little. The blogger in me thinks that I may be posting two other versions of this in the future--one with raspberry jam and one with peaches, apples or pears.
For now, however, here are the instructions and photos (inspired by IC&L's article) for making Chocolate Hazelnut Crostata. Lincoln helped me roll out the dough and make snakes for the crust, both things he's used to doing with play dough. And everyone helped eat it. Nutella is on sale at Harris Teeter right now. A sidenote: As much as I enjoy the taste of Nutella, those commercials about spreading it on whole grain toast for yor kids to eat a healthy breakfast just tick me off. Let's call sugar, sugar and not try to pass it off as health food. This crostata does not count toward your nutritious breakfast. :-) Just enjoy it and share with a friend.
Chocolate Hazelnut Crostata
Nutella hazelnut spread
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Basic Pasta Frolla (a sweet pastry dough):
1 egg yolk (save the egg whites to brush over the dough before baking for a lovely sheen)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/3 cup plus 1 Tb sugar
1/8 tsp salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
1.) I used a food processor to pulse all of the above ingredients until a ball formed. You can also do the dough by hand, kneading it a few seconds to pull it together, or use a hand or stand mixer.
2.) Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap, rolling it into a ball and then pressing down to make a flat disk. Refrigerate 30+ minutes.
3.) Working quickly, transfer the dough to a floured sheet of parchment paper and roll into a 1/4 inch thick circle with a floured rolling pin.
4.) Using a medium-sized pan lid, cut out an even circle. Gather up the extra dough and put it in the freezer to stay cool while you do step 5. This dough gets sticky if it doesn't stay cold.
5.) Spread a large dollop of Nutella over the base. Set aside.
6.) Roll out leftover dough on a separate piece of floured parchment and use a pizza cutter or knife to square off the dough. Cut 8-10 long strips for the lattice top. Gather up leftover dough and put in the freezer while you do step 7.
7.) Place half of the strips across the dough one way. Crisscross the other strips on top to form the lattice. Trim the excess off the edges with your pizza cutter.
8.) Gather up any leftover dough and roll into snakes on a floured surface. Lay the snakes along the edge of the crostata forming a crust. Press gently with your fingers to seal to the layers of dough underneath.
9.) Beat the egg white and gently brush onto the lattice work and crust.
10.) Top with toasted hazelnuts.
11.) Bake on the parchment paper on a pan or baking stone in the oven at 375' for 35 minutes.
12.) Serve hot with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or cooled by itself. Serves 6.