Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are toasted to give this Chocolate Hazelnut Bark recipe a great crunch. Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur, ups the ante with the hazelnuts for a deep, rich flavor. This vegan brittle is further enhanced with orange zest and then smothered in chocolate.
2 cups sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup amber agave syrup
¼ cup (54 grams) Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine
1 ¼ cups hazelnuts, chopped in half
1 teaspoon orange zest, chopped
1 Tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Heat your oven to 350F (177C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and place the baking sheet inside. You'll be pouring the hazelnut brittle onto this baking sheet later and spreading it out. It's important that this baking sheet is warm so the brittle doesn't solidify before you get a chance to spread it out on to the baking sheet. Place the hazelnuts on the baking sheet in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to toast them. Remove the hazelnuts and place the baking sheet back in the oven with the heat off so it stays warm.
In a medium, heavy duty saucepan, add the sugar, water, agave syrup and stir it together with clean fingers. Fill a large bowl that's bigger than your saucepan with ice water. This bowl of ice water serves two purposes: if you get burned by hot syrup you can dip your hand in the ice water. It will also be used to cool the hot saucepan after your caramel reaches 325F (163C). Bring the sugar mixture to a boil on high heat, covered, then remove cover. Stir in the Vegan Butter and reduce heat to medium. Do not stir the mixture from now on because natural convection currents will do the stirring for you.
Insert a candy thermometer and bring the mixture up to 300F (149C). After 300F (149C) the temperature will rise rapidly. Once the mixture reaches 325F (163C), remove it from heat and dip the saucepan into the ice water for about 10 seconds to stop the caramelization process.
Stir in the hazelnuts and orange zest with a wooden spoon. Stir in the Frangelico until well incorporated. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, pour the mixture onto it and spread it with a spatula until it's ¼ inch thick. Allow the mixture to cool completely before pouring melted chocolate on the brittle.
Break the chocolate into ½ inch pieces and place it into a double boiler. Apply heat to the double boiler and melt the chocolate while stirring occasionally. Pour the melted chocolate over the hazelnut brittle and spread it with a spatula. Place the Chocolate Hazelnut Bark in the refrigerator for a few hours so it cools completely. Break up the bark into small pieces.
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