Hazelnut. Nutella. Blondies.

As my good friend Jen would say, "Shut the front door!!"

As another good friend Mary would say, "Are you fucking kidding me??!?!"

I found these on Stacey Snacks, where I haven't been for a while so I had a nice long catch-up this morning with a cup of coffee, and I bookmarked about 12 recipes. These blondies, though, demanded instant attention, and an immediate trip to Hannaford because I was out of Nutella (strikes chest, shame be upon me).

Shameful Nutella Blondies

  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 rounded tablespoons Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

Add salt and flour. Mix until just combined. Add hazelnuts and mix until evenly distributed in batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Plop three rounded tablespoons of Nutella onto the batter. Swirl into the batter with a knife.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle is set. Do not over bake. Lift using the foil or paper and transfer the blondies to a rack to cool completely.

I can't even describe what the house smelled like when these were baking but I imagine the foyer of Heaven would be similar. And as for taste, they demanded that a cup of coffee be made immediately.

Super gooey goodness and dare I say a little too gooey and perhaps my rounded tablespoons of Nutella were too rounded, or perhaps my swirling technique was lacking.  But they were shut-the-front-door good!!

Nutella Cake

As with so many things in my life, I was woefully late to the Nutella party.  I'd seen it in the store, I knew what it was, sort of. I had "Try Nutella" written on a mental post-it and stuck on a fold of my brain, yeah yeah yeah. But it wasn't until nearly a year ago, when my friend Krista went to Spain and had an unforeseen stopover in London. She posted on Facebook, "Breakfast today was a crepe with strawberries and Nutella." 

Suddenly I woke up, thinking, I am REALLY late to this party!!!

My very next trip to Stop & Shop, I picked up a jar. Back at home, I made toast. I spread Nutella thereupon. I placed a slice in front of my equally ignorant daughter.

"What is this?" she immediately said. 

"Try it," I answered. As is her wont, she picked up the slice of toast and brought it to her nose. Pandagirl has an especially keen sense of smell; her nose is the gateway to her person. Some people examine, some touch, some listen. My daughter sniffs first and asks questions afterward.

She sniffed. Her eyes lit up. She tasted. Meanwhile, over at my end of the counter, I was passing out.

"I can't believe I lived 42 years without ever eating this," I moaned.

"I can't believe you let me live 9 years without eating this!" Panda wailed.

Redman came running into the kitchen. "What? Eat what? What you eating, I want some!"

Lunch that day consisted of Nutella, en variation. We made toast with peanut butter and Nutella. We sliced bananas on top of Nutella on toast.  We put strawberries on Nutella. We put Nutella on banana slices. We dipped pretzels into Nutella. We had a veritable Nutella bacchanal. 

So Nutella now lives in our house in the we-are-professionals 26.5 oz jar. Recently the delicious Stacey put up a recipe for Nutella Cake. Pandagirl pounced on it. So along with chili and cornbread for the Sunday Playoffs, we made this cake:

French Yogurt Cake with Nutella

(From Stacey Snacks, in turn from Rozanne Gold's Radically Simple:  Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease)

This calls for a 9" springform pan, greased.  I suppose you could use a regular 9" cakepan but after it cools you'd need to invert the cake out onto a plate, and then invert it right-side up again.  Not a big hassle.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Nutella

Preheat over to 350, grease a 9" springform pan.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Melt the stick of butter and let cool.

Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs and mix well.  Add the yogurt and combine.   Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour just 2/3 of the batter into the pan.  You might worry it's not even going to cover the bottom but it will, don't worry.

Add the 1/4 cup of nutella to the remaining cake batter in the bowl and mix together.

Spoon nutella-batter on top of the plain cake batter.  Swirl gently with a rubber spatula to make the pattern.


Bake for 40-45 minutes.

I served this bare naked because I didn't have anything else in the house to garnish.  Powdered sugar on top would work, as would whipped cream.  [Editor's note-- Swain would like to clarify that the cake was served without any additional garnish, hence the cake was bare naked.  Swain herself was not naked while serving the cake]


So...you want a good book about cake?  Not a cookbook, I mean a good novel that centers around cake?  Try Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray.  I've loved Jeanne Ray's books for years and only recently found out she is the mother of Ann Patchett (Yes, Bel Canto, that Ann Patchett)!  Talk about late to the party.

In Eat Cake you will meet Ruth, a Minneapolis wife and mother.  When the going gets tough, Ruth bakes.  All she has to do is envision being surrounded by walls of cake and she is calmed.  Up until now she has cooked only for her own comfort, every day, sometimes in the middle of the night.  But first Ruth's husband loses his job; then Ruth's divorced and estranged parents both come to live under her roof.  In dire emotional and financial straits, Ruth's baking comes to the forefront as a means to save not only her sanity, but the family finances as well.

This is such a warm and charming book...just like a piece of cake out of the oven.