Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tour of Italy Week Kick off - Charade Tour

This week is the kick off for the Tour of Italy Week on the Heven and Hell Tour: Charade! I have been looking forward to this week during the tour since March! 

So what is the Tour of Italy Week? It’s a celebration of all things Italian because Sam and Heven (and their crew) all take a trip to Italy in the second novel of the Heven and Hell Series, Charade. 

During this week you will take a trip to Italy with all of use and it won’t cost you anything! In fact, you might actually win some really cool prizes! So sit back and relax for a few minutes each day this week and take a mini vacation with us all!
What kinds of things can you expect on the Tour of Italy? Recipes, Sightseeing and exclusive glances inside Heven’s travel Diary that she took to Italy with her. There will also be exclusive photographs of Heven and Sam (and maybe Cole!) on their trip! There will even be a special post from Kimber telling us (and showing us with photos) about the fantastic shopping that she did while in Italy.

Look for a couple giveaways throughout the week and then one big giveaway on Friday to wrap up Tour of Italy Week where you will have the chance to win Heven’s travel diary, complete with all her posts and photographs.
So let’s get this Tour of Italy started! 

 The Tour of Italy begins with a recipe of Epic Italian Proportions and it is brought to us by our hostess with the mostess, Jen! I hear Jen is quite the talent in the kitchen so who better than to deliver us an Italian good eats?

I know I've been absent for forever, but I'm back and going strong with hazelnuts. That's right, hazelnuts. This week I'm kicking off the Italy Tour for Charade (by Cambria Hebert) and I have a new recipe for you. For anyone who isn't a regular reader of the blog, you can click the words "In Which I Am Well Informed" to read the intro post.

This week on In Which I Am Well Informed, I'm welcoming you all to Italy with Baci Brownies! According to the recipe from whence I found this recipe (Christie's Corner) they came from the idea of Baci Chocolate. Christie gives a little blurb on her blog about baci chocolate, baci meaning "kisses" in Italian, but the history and description buff in me wanted a little more. So, thank the heavens for Google. According to Perugina an Italian based company that has made the little chocolates since 1922 dark chocolate mixed with a praline hazelnut center, wrapped with tiny little romantic love notes, baci chocolate has been a worldwide sensation for decades. 

Those of you from America may not realize it, (which is really all I can speak for because I am American) but a lot of different cultures don't use the phrase "I love you" as a regular expression to show their love. This I actually discovered from my own experience, having a foreigner for a husband. In his culture they use the phrases "zemra ime" which directly translates to "my heart" or "shpirti im" which directly translates to "my soul". They have some others, but these are 2 of the most widely used from my husbands area. They rarely use the phrase "I love you" which I find fascinating. 

In Italy, according to Perugina's website, the baci chocolate has become such an edition into the culture that people use the different sayings from the wrappers as ways to express their love for others. One example is "“Tubiamo!” (let’s “tube”), which refers to the youthful tube-shaped Baci Perugina debuted in the 1980s, is a popular way for teenagers to express excitement and fun." (Perugina's website - baci history).

Which so brings me to the BACI BROWNIES! Otherwise known as Brownie Kisses, they would have to be one of the most delicious brownies I've ever made, albeit very rich. The original recipe can be found on Christie's Corner (as well as below) as are some of my pictures. I have a LOVE of hazelnuts and feel that Americans do not use them as often as they should!!!!!
1. Toast your hazelnuts: before you start any part of the recipe, toast the hazelnuts. The reason being that if you attempt to do this at the same time as starting your batter (which involves melting butter and chopped chocolate together) you may end up with not enough hands and possible burnt chocolate. I found my hazelnuts at SPROUTS Grocery which is a health food store here and carries a huge nut selection. I'm also warning you, they are expensive ($7.99 a pound). I don't think I toasted mine long enough and rubbing off the shell takes some time dedication [and patience]. I ended up stopping and not caring as the "shell" is more of a "skin" anyway. Tasted good to me. 
2. With a wire whip, mix flour, baking powder and salt: This is important. I know people think it's an extra step to mix it before you put it into the mixer/pot/main bowl, but it's important. It helps to create a consistent mixture of all the dry ingredients so everything (i.e. baking powder) is mixed evenly throughout. It also helps with the air bubbles that go into making baked goods making them smaller and such. You don't need to mix it a ton, just mix until blended. 

 3. Melt butter & chopped chocolate: First you'll melt your butter and chocolate together. KEEP HEAT ON LOW. Yes, it takes longer to melt, but your chocolate won't burn. 

4. Mix in sugar with wire whip, continuously mixing. Then with a rubber spatula, mix in flour mixture above. Then add 1/3 nuts coarsely chopped: In the future, when I do this again, I'm going to add 1/2 the nuts some finely chopped and some coarsely chopped. I wanted more of a nutty flavor in my brownie base and more finely chopped nuts throughout, I think, would have accomplished that. Then I still could have had my crunchy nuts, too!

5. Pour into buttered 9x13 dish: In the original recipe it tells you to put TIN FOIL at the bottom of the pan and then butter that. The point is to pull the brownies out and making them easier to cut. I skipped this because I like my brownies in the dish and my corningware doesn't stick easy. You do what you like.

6. Mix ingredients for Nutella Swirl and dollop on top: place the dollops all over, edges included. 
7. Using a [butter] knife, swirl around the Nutella: You don't want to mix it, otherwise you'd use a spoon. You want a swirl on the top, so you stick in your knife and swirl it around. If you click the picture above, it will enlarge and you can see my swirl design. 
 8. Top with remaining nuts: in the original recipe, this is 2/3 of the nuts. In my future recipe, this is going to be less, more like 1/3 of the nuts and I will be cutting them with a knife. I think the top nuts should have been a little bigger than some of the smaller pieces I "accidentally" chopped. Oops! 
9. Bake in a preheated 325F oven (depending on your oven - mine was on 350F) for 35-38 min: You won't necessarily be able to stick a toothpick in it to see if it's done, so when the edges pull from the sides and the center is stable, pull it out. You'll be able to touch the center with your finger and it won't sink in, it'll be more springy. Ummmmm....don't push too hard, though. It's not a rock, it's brownies.
10. Cut and serve: These brownies are rich, so I recommend you cut them smaller and serve with gelato (aka vanilla ice cream/praline ice cream). 


 That's my finished product. That probably would have served 2 adults. When I met my husband he worked in a fine dining Italian restaurant in Phoenix (I was their bookkeeper, LOL). Anyway, Hubs is always telling me it's all about the display. The food could be delicious, but if you don't display it nicely then it just doesn't look as appealing. And while brownies would probably look appealing no matter what, I decided to decorate my plate. I created a little chocolate sauce by melting 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate with 4 TBS butter (ON LOW HEAT) and then added powdered sugar (to taste - about 1/2 cup-3/4 cup) and then added whipping cream until it was the right consistency and texture. We have random chefy items in our house, so I used a squeeze bottle with a skinny tip (kind of like an old fashioned mustard bottle) to create the swirl. I added the dots at the end. Then shaved dark chocolate over the top for affect. and TADA!

And if you're wondering....the brownies are pretty much made of awesome and epic swirled with moisture and hazelnut deliciousness. When I make them again, I'm going to add a praline layer between the Nutella swirl and the brownie batter.

Recipe (directly copied from Christie's Corner)

  • 1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Nutella swirl
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with foil, making sure there’s at least a 2-inch overhang on both of the short sides. Gently press the foil into the corners. Butter the foil.
  2. Place the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly golden. Spill the nuts onto a dish towel and rub them with the towel to loosen and remove most of the skin. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and chop coarsely.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over very low heat, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until fully incorporated, then stir in one-third of the toasted hazelnuts. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
  5. For the Nutella Swirl: Combine the Nutella, egg and flour in a glass measuring cup and stir with a fork until thoroughly blended. Drop small spoonfuls of the Nutella mixture evenly over the brownie batter. Use a knife to gently swirl it through the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 38 minutes or until the top is set and the edges have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Don’t overbake or the edges will be dry. Cool in the pan on a rack for at least 2 hours.
  7. Holding onto the two foil ends, lift the brownie up and onto a cutting board. Peel the foil away from the sides of the brownie. Cut lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 8 strips to yield 32 bars. Because these are so rich, you can also cut them into 10 or 12 strips to make 40 or 48 bars, respectively.
  8. Store layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 4 days; or refrigerate, tightly wrapped for up to 1 week; or freeze for up to 2 months.

Welcome to Italy, my lovlies!!

 Join us on the rest of the tour to see more Italian magic!

About the book:
Dying at the hands of a psycho was a shock. Having my life returned to me by an angel was incredible. Being named a Supernatural Treasure and being given Sam as my guard was pretty darn awesome. Acquiring a debt for it all—well, I should have seen it coming.
Now here we are, fighting demons from Hell, caring for a boy that I just don’t trust, and traveling to faraway places to return a treasure to its rightful place. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone wears a mask; everyone puts on a charade. It’s up to us to separate the truth from the lies and reality from fiction. A hard task when my new reality involves fallen angels, witches and dragons… and did I mention Hell?
Anchoring me down through it all is Sam. Sam, who must face tragedies of his own and is put to the test again and again.
If we fail in our task, life as we know it—life as you know it—will end. Forever.
Links to Purchase:
(Paperback and Ebook)

Tour of Italy week Schedule
June 2nd- Jen @ In the Closet With a Bibliophile – Italian Recipe + Week Kick off
June 3rd- Elisa @ ECwrites  – A journal Entry from Heven about Italian vineyard.
June 4th- Lila@ Babbling About Books and Stuff- Italian Goodies, Postcards from Heven and Sam and a mini interview
June 5th- Natasha @ Dreamland: A Teenage Fantasy -  Travel diary post from Heven about Leaning Tower of Pisa
June 6th- Wendy@ Cupcake and a LatteTravel Diary Post about the Colosseum and a giveaway of a signed paperback, bookmark, magnet, pen, notepad
June7th- Veronica@ Mosty Reviews  - Shopping in Italy with Kimber – International Giveaway – Paperback of Charade from Book Depository, a signed bookmark set and an exclusive keychain directly from Italy!
June 8th- Jenny @ Supernatural Snark-Travel Diary post of Trevi Fountain and wrap up giveaway of a T-shirt, a tote bag, a signed note card and Heven’s Travel Diary filled with all the exclusive pictures from the trip.
Cambria Hebert
Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website
 A huge thanks to Jen today for hosting the tour and kicking off Italy Week!!


  1. I think I just had an orgasmic reaction to those brownies....Im so making those....:D

  2. Hi Jen!!
    This post looks great and I love the Italy banner at the top! What a great job you did putting this together! Thank you so much for giving us all this fantastic recipe!!! YUMM-O!!
    I totally can't wait to make these they look soooo goood. :-)
    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into the recipe and the making of this post. The Tour of Italy is off to a fantastic start because of you!!! You are awesome thanks so much for being part of the Charade tour!

  3. Hi girlfriend! So glad to see you doing one of your delicious cooking posts. It has been way way too long. Holy cow these look good and your presentation looked like something on the Food Network. They sound so rich and definitely sinful. Does the Nutella taste good on the top? Here in Oregon they grow hazelnuts so they are easy to come by and not so expensive, so I will have to try this sometime. I loved your intro with all the detail on chocolate and Italy. You rocked this post! Huggles!

  4. I will totally be trying this recipe it sounds delish! I loved Italy when I got to visit and plan on going back at some point. It was a great vacation :)

  5. Yummy, these brownies are makinf me lust for them. :) I need to try this recipe even if I suck at cooking... :)

  6. For the 100000000 time, I'm wishing I lived with you. *longing sigh*

    To be honest, Nutella isn't my favorite thing in the world, but you make it look good.

  7. Sounds so great! Will need to try the recipe soon. I also loved the translation of "little kisses" during my time in Italy.

  8. Thanks I've been waiting for this book!

  9. Yum, yum and YUM! I'm SO going to make these brownies.

  10. Those brownies look excellent. I enjoyed your little reveal about other countries and how people express their feelings towards each other. Interesting.
    Lynn :D

  11. Looks tempting!The step by step process is well explained. I love the presentation. I have been thinking of making these too, one of these days. Great blog!Keep it up!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Specially dishes of the Ital is much tasty as compare to the other countries dishes i hope this tour is great and remember able for you and in the pics i think cake is looking very charming for me and i wish that i will be eat this cake new york atlanta bus if you want to tour of Atlanta you must visit this site...


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XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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