Happy Valentine’s Day! Although I think the whole hype around Vday is a bit absurd, I do not see it as a chance to either get all lovey or to be angry and bitter…rather, it just presents a delightful opportunity to bake all manner of sinful and delightful things. When you bake for this holiday, you should either make something red/pink or something chocolate, according to the way I see things. Now, Nutella isn’t exactly pure chocolate, but this dessert is like an elevated version of a brownie that is perfect for an occasion that is a bit more special. On the other hand, the ingredients are super easy to find and you probably have them lying around (although a full jar of Nutella in a home is basically an anomaly to me – I always have to go out and buy one specifically for the purpose of baking). The only tricky part of this recipe is the crust – I always find pressing it into the pan to be a bit of an ordeal, but just be patient and it will be fine. The rest of it is a breeze, and believe me, you will be greatly appreciated for making it.
Nutella bars (adapted from Mississippi Kitchen)
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F and either line a square baking pan with parchment paper or grease it lightly. In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients and mix until it starts clumping together. Once it does, use your hands to start forming it into a ball. There will definitely be parts left over, but eventually dump the whole thing into the pan and start pressing it into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. If it’s sticking to you, feel free to dust with flour lightly, or run your hands under cold water and use your fingers to press it all the way around the pan. Prick it a few times with a fork, and then bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown around edges.While it’s baking, beat the ingredients for the filling together until they are smooth. Revel in the smell of Nutella. When the crust is done, pour the mixture evenly over it and bake for 25-30 minutes or until middle is puffed and just set. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting into bars. (I actually did let them cool completely as a burned mouth on hot Nutella doesn’t actually sound like a good time.) You can make anywhere from 16 to 25 with a square pan – I usually like to cut mine pretty small so I can eat more of them (makes sense in my world).