Why is it I always end up spending such an insane amount of money at Whole Foods? Probably because I go there when I don’t really have a specific idea in mind… or maybe because it’s a little too easy to get inspired there. For example…
The other day, Aussie and I were in the check-out line, and I noticed his head was having a hard time facing the right way. Sometimes he gets a bit, well, side-tracked, and he literally can’t keep his head on straight.
Me: “Hon, what are you looking at?”
Him: “Um…” (with a sigh) “brownies.”
Me: “Those crappy walnut-y ones?”
Him: “They look so GOOD! Like hedgehogs!”
I wasn’t about to let him buy a tray of frosted, craptastic brownies (you know those supermarket ones always look better than they taste), so I decided to improvise.
Hedgehogs — or more fully, “hedgehog slice” — are an Aussie treat (not cute little animals! I wouldn’t eat those!). They are essentially unbaked brownies with crushed biscuits (i.e. cookies) inside, topped with chocolate icing and (sometimes) walnuts.
The only hedgehogs I ever had were from a boxed mix Aussie’s mum sent over. Let me tell you — they are SWEET, probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever eaten, ever. (I’ve found Aussie food tends towards the extra-sweet or extra-salty). Plus, the unbaked part was different — you end up pouring eggs into a hot batter, and you get some scrambling. Strange process, eh?
Not knowing how to replicate this, I just made my own version. These are baked, bittersweet, and have ganache instead of icing. I like to think of them as “Grown-Up Hedgehogs” because they aren’t as sweet (and therefore child-like) as the real thing. I started with a great recipe for cocoa brownies I wrote about previously and added to it. I improvised on a few ingredients, buying the closest I could to tea biscuits and, refusing to buy more heavy cream, using 2% milk to make a ganache.
And you know what? They turned out DELICIOUS. Not really hedgehogs, but still delicious enough that all I could think about yesterday was rushing home to eat more of them.
So, in case you are need of a serious chocolate binge and want to make these, here is the recipe:
To make these, you’ll want to start with a fool-proof brownie recipe. I wanted thick, fudge-y brownies, so I used smitten kitchen’s cocoa brownie recipe, which is flat-out amazing. Then, I added biscuits, ganache, and some nuts. Below, I’ve listed all the ingredients you’ll need, but I’ll just start with instructions after you finish the brownie part!
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I only had 1/4 to use, and it worked out just fine)
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
10 Le Petit Beurre biscuits, crushed (or some other European-style tea biscuit)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup 2% milk
5 oz bittersweet (52%) chocolate, chopped/broken into bits
Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare brownie batter (and pan) according to the directions at smitten kitchen (do NOT skip the parchment paper or foil — you’ll never get these out of the pan otherwise!). Add crushed biscuits to the finished batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes and cool on a rack (keep the hedgehogs in the pan for now).
While hedgehogs are cooling, make a ganache by combining the chocolate and milk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until mixture is melted and completely combined. This makes a pretty thin ganache, and lots of it, so you can adjust if you want.
Pour the ganache over the top of the hedgehogs and use a spatula to smooth. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over the top. I went pretty sparsely on this, but you could always use more if you want.
Refrigerate until chilled, cut into pieces, and eat — hopefully not all at once!