Nutella. Gianduja. Chocolate hazelnut spread. Delicious? Whatever you wanna call it, here it is.
Some of you might have noticed my satisfying a recent craving for that childhood treat—or, depending on the continent and exposure to such things, the adolescent treat—that gets tucked into crepes, spooned onto bananas, and eaten by the spoonful under the cover of darkness. Before caving a few weeks ago, I can’t rememeber the last time I bought a jar of Nutella. But while I was thrilled with my impulse purchase, I admit that I craved something that tasted slightly more grownup, and without the throat-burning sweetness and palm oil that are hallmarks of the original.The best part of making your own chocolate hazelnut spread is, no surprise, the ability to tweak it to your taste. You might, as I have, opt for a bit less sugar and a touch more salt. You might roast your hazelnuts until deeply golden. You might choose carefully sourced and gathered ingredients or feel perfectly justified in melting down the uneaten milk chocolate left over from Halloween. Whatever the particulars, the point is that they’re yours to choose.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Adapted from the Splendid Table
Here’s what you need:
1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces milk chocolate
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread raw hazelnuts onto a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the nuts are golden brown and the skins have blistered. (I wanted a pronounced nutty taste, so I left mine in the oven on the longer side of this spectrum.) Rub the roasted nuts in a clean kitchen towel to remove loose skins. Don’t worry about any skin that still remains after a vigorous rub. Perfection is not the goal here. Allow the nuts to cool.
Melt the chocolate in a saucepan or double boiler being careful not to scorch it. Stir until smooth and allow to cool.
Grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste—or at the least they’re very well smashed. (For this step, nearly all recipes call for a food processor. Lacking one of those, I used a mason jar attached to my blender, which worked like a charm. With a bit of willpower and brute force, a mortar and pestle would also work.) Add the oil, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt and continue to blend until the mixture is as smooth as possible, or as smooth as you want it to be. Add the melted chocolate and blend well.
The original recipe indicates that the resulting spread is thin and runny but firms up as it cools. For my part, the spread was immediately rich and creamy with a consistency close to freshly ground peanut butter.
Use a rubber spatula to transfer the spread to a clean, resealable container. Lick the spatula before washing.
Roasted hazelnuts in a mason jar with as much skin as possible removed and ready to be pulverized.My initial blend of roasted nuts yeilded something drier than a paste, but with the addition of the other ingredients, the paste quickly came together.Cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar ready to be blended.
I bought a large block of milk chocolate from the neigborhood bulk store and chopped it into smaller pieces before melting. The kitchen scale is just one perk of having a resident bread baker for a husband.As far as consistency goes, the difference between this homemade variation and store-bought Nutella is similar to the difference between store-bought peanut butter with palm oil mixed in for smoothness and freshly ground peanut butter from a machine set to smooth. It’s richly nutty, devoid of the slimy taste of too much added oil, and lightly textured but without any large chunks.I’ll come clean and admit that I’ve been wolfing down this spread all on my own, but spooned into a nice jar and wrapped up with a note, I think it would be a lovely gift. Something to bring your Thansgiving host, for instance (if you manage to keep it around that long).In a household with extreme willpower, the spread will keep unrefrigerated for up to two weeks.
It’s not health food, but it is delicious.