Chocolate Hazelnut & Pretzel Brownie Bricks

When a brownie isn’t decadent enough add more chocolate both in the brownie and in the form of chocolate mousse on top. Because why not?

Chocolate Hazelnut & Pretzel Brownie Bricks 1

These brownies are topped with chocolate hazelnut mousse. That’s right, you heard me. And this is not the first time I’ve done something like this. Years ago, back when I thought my photography skills were decent (HA), I made my first version of these topped peanut butter mousse and thin layer of chocolate mousse on top of that for good measure. This time around I went with chocolate hazelnut spread instead of peanut butter and omitted the second layer because it seemed kind of redundant. Instead I added sprinkles and more chopped chocolate that has bits of pretzel inside of them. More? Oh did I forget to mention that those same chocolate pretzels bits were also mixed into the brownies? Cause they are.

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The chocolate is probably not going to stick around for long as it’s seasonal for Easter, but you could easily substitute with chopped pretzels and chocolate chips or chopped chocolate covered pretzels – either will get the job done. The addition adds not just more chocolate but also hints of salt, of which I am a huge fan. An entire bag (which equals about 2 cups chopped) was folded into the brownie batter before baking. After topping it with the mousse I went ahead and added some more from a second bag cause why not.

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But honestly the star of the dessert is the mousse. I’ve made chocolate hazelnut mousse as a stand alone dessert before and it totally rocked the spotlight so there really wasn’t any reason it needed to be spread on top of a brownie, except that it can be done and therefore I did. As an added bonus it’s National chocolate mousse day and I happened to have a jar of Nocciolata chocolate hazelnut spread destined for greatness. Literally the whole jar went into the mousse.

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Thankfully I had a dinner party to attend the same day that these were made otherwise they would have been a serious threat to my wardrobe. My friend’s mom was in town from Colombia (yes the same one who treated us to homemade patacones) and she made sancocho, which is one of the best soups I’ve ever had and has fun things like plantains and yuca in it. Somehow after second servings all around the table we managed to dive into these brownies without popping button on our pants. It was a indulgent, delicious evening with great company.

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One year ago: Weekly Meal Plan: April 4-10

Two years ago: Spring Salad with Grapes and Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese

Three years ago: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Four years ago: Butternut Squash Orzo with Pine Nuts, Balsamic Drizzle, and Fried Sage

Five years ago: Chicken Pad Thai

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT & PRETZEL BROWNIE BRICKS

Makes 16 two-inch bars

Ingredients:

BROWNIES

1 box of your favorite 8×8 sized brownie mix

Oil, eggs, and water according to package

1 (10 oz.) bag chopped Hershey’s pretzel eggs (or 2 cups total chopped chocolate and pretzels)

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT LAYER

1/2 block (4 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (or a 9.52 oz. jar) Nocciolata chocolate hazelnut spread

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Sprinkles and/or more chopped pretzel eggs, for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8-inch pan and set aside.
  2. Prepare and bake the brownies according to the directions
  3. Allow time for the brownies to cool; in the meantime, prepare the peanut butter layer.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and chocolate hazelnut spread until fluffy. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt and beat again.
  5. Put the chocolate hazelnut concoction into another bowl, clean out the first bowl and whip the cream to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter and continue until completely combined.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, spread the chocolate hazelnut mousse on top of the cooled brownies and refrigerate for an hour, or until ready to serve. Top with sprinkles!

Source: Adapted slightly from my Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bricks.

Disclosure: I was provided with a complementary jar of Nocciolata from Crier Communications. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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