Chocolate-hazelnut cups (for my Valentine)

Maybe for special occasions like Valentine's Day, I feel the urge (or I can justify) the effort to try and make my own confections.  I took on this little project because I wanted to make some homemade Valentine treats for my husband.  I mean, why simply buy delicious chocolates from the store when you can really show your love by toiling away on a snow day, brushing miniature candy cups with chocolate and filling it with your own chocolate-hazelnut concoction?
Well...these little chocolate-hazelnut cups didn't exactly turn out the way I envisioned - visually, anyway.  The goal was a cross between a Ferrero Rocher and Baci Perugina - those heavenly bites of chocolate-hazelnut goodness that my husband and I are partial to.  I think these really hit the mark on taste.  They're delicious!  Visually, however...my chocolate-hazelnut cups are certainly wanting but I hope the taste makes up for it.

If you love the combination of chocolate and hazelnut - what the Italians beautifully call, gianduja - and those particular chocolates I mentioned, these are for you and your sweetheart.
The cups are just bittersweet chocolate.  The filling I made is a mixture of semisweet chocolate and Nutella, mixed with chopped toasted hazelnuts.  When I think of chocolate-hazelnut desserts, I think of feuilletine - those super crispy yet light-as-air, thin pastry flakes that I could eat all day.  So for that extra special texture (and taste), I added bits of crushed crepe dentelle, or crepe cookies, into the filling.  It's a shortcut way of getting feuilletine without actually buying it or making it yourself.
Bittersweet chocolate cups are filled with a mixture of chocolate-nutella spread, coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts and crispy crepe dentelles (crispy, light pastry flakes)
These chocolate-hazelnut cups were mainly inspired by a recipe in a Cupcake book that I picked up a long time ago.  I also leaned on a recipe I found from epicurious.  I've had these little cups in the back of my mind for a special occasion for a long time; I think Valentine's Day certainly qualifies.  And like some ideas that land in your head and sticks there, and just won't go away, I'm glad I finally made this idea into reality so I can stop thinking about it.

I made several changes to the recipes, scaling it down but mainly making the process easier so that the filling is one you can easily mix together and fill into the dark chocolate cups.  After spending the time to "paint" chocolate into little baking cups, patience and concentration levels start to run low and I think the rest of the steps need to be quick and easy.  I did have visions of a neatly piped filling in the center of each one of these.  That didn't happen but I promise these taste wonderful.
I'm glad Valentine's Day is on a Friday this year.  I'm ready for a simple, relaxing at-home dinner with my hubby after bedtime for the little guy.  And I've stashed away a couple of these chocolate-hazelnut cups for us.  I just may have a few other, store-bought - "real" - chocolates for my Valentine as well.  
Have a sweet Valentine's Day!

I was aiming for a dozen of these chocolate-hazelnut cups.  Since I was not following a concrete recipe and winging the proportions a bit, I ended up with a little less filling than I would've preferred but I made do (and adjusted the recipe listed).
First, start by making the chocolate cups.  I took some foil candy cups, doubling them up to make them stronger so that it's a little easier to coat the cups and keep the shape (relatively) intact.

If you do embark on a project like this, look for and use the sturdiest miniature cups you can find.  I should have done that given I have a little stash of cupcake liners in my pantry (liners are not all created equal) but I went straight for the foil ones thinking they would be best.  In retrospect, some of my little paper cups were better quality and would've held up better.  My foil cups were not all that sturdy so they didn't hold their shape as well as I would've liked.  Whether you use foil cups or miniature paper liners, stack enough of them so that you have a sturdy/firm base to work with.  I coated the cups with a thick coat of melted bittersweet chocolate with a clean pastry brush.  Then, I popped them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set.

After the chocolate has hardened, you can remove the foil cup liners from the chocolate or leave them as is and remove the liner at the time of serving.  To remove, work fast and lightly, crossing your fingers for luck that they don't break on you!

Now...the filling.  Altogether, the filling is a bit of semisweet chocolate (you could also use milk chocolate), mixed with Nutella, some coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts, and the crushed dentelles or crepe cookies.  The two recipes I mentioned use a whole hazelnut for each, whether to tuck into the filling or as a topper.  I choose to make life a little easier by going straight for more chopped hazelnuts in my filling to save on some steps.

Don't go and taste the filling because it might be very hard to stop!
A big side benefit of making this recipe was the Gavottes crepe dentelles that I discovered!  These crepe cookies from Brittany - a region known for their amazing butter - are incredible!  I've used "Crispy Crepes" bought at Whole Foods to mimic feuilletine when I make chocolate hazelnut crunch bars but I recently saw these and thought I'd use them for my next project.  These Gavottes dentelles are just a world better!  I bought mine at World Market (specialty foods department of Bed, Bath, and Beyond); if you see them anywhere, grab some just to snack on!
I used dark chocolate covered ones in this case (a milk chocolate version is also available).  Our filling has chocolate in it already so it works well.  Next time, I'm going for more and getting my hands on some plain dentelles if I can.  I simply crushed up the dentelles and stirred it into my filling.  The original recipe that inspired this calls for some crushed ice cream cones and you could also try using puffed cereal or crushed cornflakes.  A little bit of added crunch is very nice.


The foil cups I used were larger than I pictured in my mind so my initial plan to pipe the filling with a star tip just didn't pan out.  I simply divided my filling among the chocolate cups and decorated the top with some finely chopped toasted hazelnuts.
My Valentine thought these were delicious.  Of course, I'm pretty sure my husband would say that even if they weren't; he's not nearly as brutally honest as the little one (who liked these "but not the chunks of hazelnuts inside").  These cups really do mimic those delicious Ferrero Rocher and Baci chocolates.  The little crunch from not only the hazelnuts but the crepe dentelle is my favorite part.  

You could certainly buy Rochers or Baci's (and I do) but if your Valentine is a chocolate-hazelnut lover and you feel like straining yourself a little to show your love on Valentine's Day - why not consider this homemade spin!  ; )


Recipe:

Chocolate Hazelnut Cups
Adapted from a recipe in Cupcake and epicurious

- 12 chocolate hazelnut cups - 

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 ounces semisweet (or milk) chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 ounce toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (about 3-4 tablespoons), plus 2-3 extra hazelnuts finely chopped for topping
6 (about 1 ounce) dark or milk chocolate coated crepe dentelles (or similar crepe cookies), coarsely crushed

Place 12 foil candy cup liners (or other miniature paper or foil liners) on a baking sheet.  Unless your liners are firm and sturdy, double the liners up one inside the other to form a stronger structure.  Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.  Remove from the heat and use a clean 1-inch pastry brush to thickly coat the inside of each candy cup.  Place baking sheet with the cups into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, until chocolate sets.

Place semisweet (or milk) chocolate into the heatproof bowl used earlier for the liners and set over a pan of barely simmering water to melt.  Remove from the heat and stir in Nutella until smooth.  Add chopped hazelnuts, then gently stir in the crushed crepe cookies.

Remove chocolate cups from the refrigerator.  Carefully remove foil or paper liners from the chocolate cups (if the chocolate starts to warm, place it back in the refrigerator to chill a few minutes).  Alternatively, you could proceed with the recipe and leave liners intact until serving time.  Divide and spoon the filling among the 12 chocolate cups.  Sprinkle the top of each with some finely chopped hazelnuts.

Refrigerate cups for about 30 minutes, until firm.  The chocolate cups can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.  Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.







50 comments:

  1. I love the way these look! And so much more special than a store-bought box of chocolate :)

    Sues

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    1. Thanks - I love some good store-bought chocolate but once in a while, I get the wacky idea to try a homemade version. : )

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  2. At first I didn't realize the "wrappers" were made of chocolate as well...but WHOA. These are amazing! Totally V-Day worthy.

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    1. It's funny, Joanne, because when I made these the other day and bought them up to my hubby, he didn't realize he could just pop it in his mouth. He totally thought there was some type of wrapper too and was surprised when I told him it's all edible. The chocolate "painting" is definitely the more 'painful' part of this project, as you can see from how they look! I'm still glad I made them though. :)

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  3. These chocolate cups look divine, Monica.

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  4. These look fantastic, Monica. A beautiful surprise! :) ela

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    1. I don't know about 'beautiful' but they are very tasty. : )

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  5. These are so adorable. They look so yummy!

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  6. These came out great, Monica! I loooove Ferrero Rocher. Yummy!!! Happy Valentine's Day :)

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    1. For Chinese New Year, it is all about the ferrero rocher, which is a good thing because I'm a huge fan. I love Baci's too and I have a few boxes at home...Once we're all done with our homemade goodies, we'll polish those off. : )

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  7. These look so great! I hope he enjoys it! :)

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    1. It was an early V-day treat so he has already been enjoying them. I'm saving 2 for Friday. : )

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  8. Yum! I love how simple these are to make...like the crunchiness of these treats...
    Have a great week Monica :D

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    1. Definitely a lot of crunch and crispiness in there. Thanks!

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  9. Wow, the filling looks amazing!! I'd die for this dessert (:

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    1. A fellow chocolate-hazelnut fan, I see. : ) Glad to hear it.

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  10. These are too cute! Lucky Valentine! :)

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    1. You have a wonderful Valentine's Day, Marie!

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  11. Wowza! This looks fantastic! I want this!

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  12. These turned out beautifully Monica! What a perfect way of showing your hubby how much he means to you - it certainly shows with these home made chocolate cups. I love Ferraro Rocher chocolates and think you did a fantastic job replicating the liners. These are so much more special and meaningful than any store-bought chocolates :) Your hubby and lil guy are so lucky that you make all these delectable treats for them and hope you all have a great Valentine's Day :)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Kelly. I felt like torturing myself with that chocolate painting to show my love this year. haha. It wasn't so bad...as long as you don't care for neatness.

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  13. These are gorgeous! I love the way they look and you can absolutely tell they are delicious! Good for you making these for Valentines Day. Now I better get on the ball.

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    1. Oh, thank you very much! : ) A little handmade goodness is nice sometimes for V-day. : )

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  14. These turned out wonderfully, I'm in awe! That crunchy filling sounds out-of-this-world delicious (if your little one doesn't like it, I'll take his part!), and it looks like a delicious treat overall! Perfect Valentines Day gift, Monica! I really love these <3

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    1. haha - yes, Consuelo...we hogged these for ourselves. Thanks so much...glad you approve.

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  15. These look beautiful Monica! Well done a labour of love indeed. I am totally with you as far as brushing the chocolate in the cups ;-/ I made homemade Easter eggs last year and I don't think I have the patience to brush any more melted chocolate!! I love the hazelnut flavour and the wafer biscuit addition - genius!! :-)

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    1. Hi Jo - yes, painting chocolate cups is one of those things you do and tell yourself not to do again but then you find yourself doing it! : ) Those wafer biscuits are divine!!

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  16. Wow, these look delicious, Monica!! They have the perfect combination of ingredients!

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  17. I love these Monica! Toasted hazelnuts are just so good and I can imagine even better in some homemade candy! And it's so cool that the wrappers and edible - so neat! My grandma is a HUGE fan of the Ferrero Rocher candies - I'll need to try these for her sometime. She would go nuts for them!

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    1. Doesn't toasting the nuts just bring the flavor forth 10x over?! Your grandma has good taste and you are a good granddaughter to think of her and want to make these for her. I have a feeling she'd adore anything you make!

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  18. I love that they are encased in chocolate cups! Love chocolate and hazelnut. Perfect Valentine's Day treat.

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    1. Thank you! I love that you can pop it right in your mouth, too!

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  19. Wow, even the cups are edible!!!
    i think i'm gonna take this for next sunday schools, the kid must be crazy about it....

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    1. Yeah, just pop them in your mouth! : )

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  20. Awww what a great idea!! I love it for Valentine's Day!

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    1. Thanks, Ashley...Valentine's Day seems to justify this kind of thing. Have a great one!

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  21. Well, I don't have a Valentine...but I would gladly eat these all myself! Yum, definitely need to try. Pinned!

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    1. Being your own Valentine is a very nice thing, too! : )

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  22. These look delicious! Who cares how they look! Look at all those nuts inside--yum! :)

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    1. We're big hazelnut-chocolate fans and love some crispy texture. It definitely tastes good to us! : )

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  23. you are crazy; these are gorgeous! and they sound delicious, and absolutely perfect for a valentine's treat.

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    1. Thank goodness for nice people like you! I wish they looked nicer but my husband certainly didn't mind and they tasted really yum. : )

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  24. Who doesn't love chocolate and hazelnuts? These sound completely delicious! I've always wanted to try making homemade ferrero rocher, I'll have to look out for those crepe cookies....

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    1. Definitely not me...I LOVE chocolate and hazelnuts! Do look for those crepe cookies; I need to get some soon!

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  25. These are absolutely adorable! I will definitely be trying these!

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    1. The filling is a breeze...painting the liners with chocolate is really where the patience and paper towels come in. :)

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