January 9, 2010

An overdue holiday baking post (and an unofficial tribute to nutella)

I made a lot of baked goods toward the end of 2009 that were delicious and worthy of sharing (even though I'm a couple of months late!) The two that I'll feaure now had nutella on the ingredients list, which means I was SOLD as soon as I saw them in Cooking Light.

The only downfall was, while these recipes came from Cooking Light, I discovered they are not actually "light" by my own definitions, but really just an example of a "responsible portion" of a full-fat food. Some people would practice the "everything in moderation" mantra when eating sweets, but I just can't have a 1 inch square of baklava for 300 calories and call it a day....

Generally if I know I can't have just one of something, I try not to set myself up for disaster, but in this case, I did not follow my own advice. These recipes were pretty high calorie for the serving size, so, please know that while they were super delicious, these recipes are NOT your best bet for a conservative calroic alternative.

Chocolate Baklava from December 2009 issue Cooking Light

This baklava probably ranks among one of my favorite kinds of desserts, because it has all of my weaknesses. Delicious nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios that give it texture and crunch, with buttery flaky phyllo dough... and nutella!!!

As I mentioned, I have an unhealthy love for Nutella. Ben looked over into the kitchen at one point in my baking process, and saw me elbow-deep in nutella and gladfully licking it off of every finger. Not my finest moment...

The whole process was a little frustrating the day I made it. First off - the grocery stores in the area were working against me, and it took me forever to buy everything I needed. I even had to buy a glass baking dish, since Ben's apartment is not quite as stocked for baking as mine...

Then , of course we all know how difficult it can be to work with phyllo, but once I finally got everything assembled, I accidentally poured the honey solution over the dish BEFORE baking (what was I thinking?!!). Fortunately, the consistency was still spot on, except for pieces in the middle of the dish which were a little too gooey.

All in all, this recipe was completely delicious, but I'll have to wait awhile before making it again, since I'll be inclined to eat 1/3 of the pan in a sitting...

Yield: 24 servings (serving size: 1 piece = 238 calories)


  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup blanched toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (I subbed the walnuts, which I'm allergic to, for more almonds))
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 24 (14 x 9–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat; stir until honey dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 230° (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Place hazelnut-chocolate spread in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until melted. Combine hazelnuts and next 5 ingredients (through salt). Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), place 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise in bottom of prepared pan, allowing ends of sheet to extend over edges of dish; lightly brush with butter. Repeat procedure with 5 phyllo sheets and butter. Drizzle about 1/3 cup melted hazelnut -chocolate spread over phyllo. Sprinkle evenly with one-third of nut mixture (about 1/2 cup). Repeat procedure twice with phyllo, butter, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and nut mixture. Top last layer of nut mixture with remaining 6 sheets phyllo, each lightly brushed with butter. Press gently into pan.
  4. Make 3 lengthwise cuts and 5 crosswise cuts to form 24 portions using a sharp knife. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until phyllo is golden. Remove from oven. Drizzle honey mixture over baklava. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover; store at room temperature.
Next up....

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints
f rom December 2009 issue of Cooking Light

Truthfully, I was sick as a dog when I made these, but I was determined to do some holiday baking, and wanted to bring these for a Christmas party with close friends from college. They were a delight to make, although I found that this was a particularly cakey dough, so it wasn't as easy as I had thought to roll the cookies in chopped hazelnuts.

Aaaaand just like the baklava above, I truly could not resist snacking on the nutella straight from thejar, and sneaking bits of dough while I was cooking. So if I am being honest, this was really a healthy cooking FAIL.

Yield: 28 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie = 104 calories)


  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired. Add the yolk mixture and vanilla to butter; beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.
  3. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls. Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie.

1 comment:

  1. um... Me too! I love LOVE Nutella ... so do our kids.... Thank you... I think.. Ha ha... for the 'light' recipes with Nutella! once again.. yum yum.. love the confession of the licking of the nutella! ;)