We had the opportunity to travel on a family vacation to France back in 2009.…
Around our house, Nutella could be considered on the of the four main food groups. I was first introduced to Nutella while in Europe after I graduated from college. Several of the places I stayed offered small containers of Nutella (Like the little jelly plastic containers at many breakfast restaurants). A spread of Nutella on toast for breakfast – a very European way to start our day.
Fast forward a few years and I first saw Nutella in a few specialty stores in the US. I made the mistake of buying some for Lori. We started by buying Walkers Shortbread cookies and spreading Nutella on top. (Of course, I might be found occasionally putting Nutella on toast for breakfast.)
When we were living in Austin and Lori was pregnant with Carly, Nutella became a fixture in our house. Like I said before, it started with a little on top of the shortbread cookies. Then you could barely see any cookie under the Nutella. Next is was “forget the cookie – hand me a spoon!” The amount of Nutella I was purchasing during this time was staggering.
Of course now you can find the tubs of Nutella in Sams and Costco. I can only attribute Carly’s love of Nutella to the sheer amount that Lori consumed during her pregnancy – or maybe it’s because Carly is a chocolate fanatic as well….
Last year while we were in Chicago, our hotel was one block away from the Eatly store (as an aside – that is both a very good and a very bad location!). When we were there, they had 6 pound tubs of Nutella in the store. It called out to us and needed to come home with us – that was something we brought back for Carly….
So I’ve seen a number of articles about Nutella along with recipes for making it at home. After looking at a bunch of recipes, I decided I needed to try making it. One of the other sparks was the recent opening of the Sprouts grocery store in the Madison area – they have a fantastic bulk section including raw hazelnuts.
The recipes had so many differences that I had to pick one to start with. After a little experience with a recipe, then I can start to “play” with it until I get it “right” (i.e. the way I like it….).
While I don’t get the Huntsville Times anymore, we still get a small twice weekly delivery. One Wednesday in the “food” section, there was an article on Nutella originally from the Raleigh News and Observer. It included a recipe for Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, Nutella Scones and something they called Nutelasagna. Well, any article that has a recipe for a dessert lasagna made with Nutella can’t be all bad, so I decided to try this recipe.
The recipe is not too difficult, but I always have a challenge with getting the skins off of the hazelnuts and today was no different. The article included a tip from Alice Medrich on an easy way to skin them, but I didn’t try that yet to see how it works. I did it the old way by toasting the nuts and then rubbing them in a kitchen towel to try to rub off the skins. My results were so-so, with some skin remaining when we went to the food processor.
Here are the ingredients in this particular recipe:
At this point, I had already toasted and removed as much of the skin off of the nuts as I could.
The next step was to grind the nuts in the food processor.
The challenge I ran into was that I couldn’t grind the nuts as fine as I would like. With just the nuts in the food processor, as it turned to the paste, it clumped on the sides and the blade wasn’t really doing much good. I went ahead and added the next group of ingredients and processed that. The recipe said to process until the mixture is “As Smooth as Possible.” Well, for me that wasn’t extremely smooth. It seemed the the small amount of oil along with the powdered sugar and cocoa powder didn’t really thin the nuts enough to allow them to continue getting smaller.
This particular recipe said to melt the chocolate before adding. Many of the others add the chocolate at room temperature. So, I felt the only way I could continue to smooth is out was to add the chocolate so I could have both volume and something sort of liquidy to help the nuts not stick to the side of the processor. I added the chocolate and continued to process. All told, I probably ran the food process for about 7 minutes from starting to grind the nuts until it looked like it wasn’t smoothing anymore.
At this point in the picture, you can see the ground nuts. So, my spread had a bit of “grit” to it. But, it was time to take it out and try it. I moved it to a bowl and to taste, of course I had to spread it on top of cookies (and then taste off a spoon for the full effect).
So – the verdict…..the texture was definitely not the same as what you get in the jar. My nut grinding still had extremely small pieces rather than being completely smooth. This recipe also had a higher chocolate to hazelnut ration which I originally thought was a good thing, but Carly disagreed. Also, the spread was fairly “loose.” Since we had quite a bit, we’ve had it sitting in the bowl and it has improved over time. It’s thickened up and mellowed a bit. Of course, as I’m writing this, it’s almost gone. It made about as much as one of the large containers from Costco, so it lasted about a week in our house. The other comment from several tasters is that they thought this one was just a bit salty. Another comment was that sometimes Nutella seems just too sweet and this one was not nearly as sweet – which everyone agreed was a good thing.
So I’ll start refining the recipe to get to what I like and experiment with grinding the nuts better. But, here is the recipe that I used:
Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Raleigh News and Observer (Slightly adapted)
Makes about 2 cups
12 ounces, milk chocolate chopped
1 cup, peeled, toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
Put chocolate in a small metal bowl. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Place bowl with chocolate over the hot water and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Put the hazelnuts in the bowl of the food processor and grind until it forms as smooth a paste as you can (Basically, when the nuts are against the side of the bowl and the blade isn’t really cutting them anymore). Add the oil, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla and salt. Continue processing until as smooth as possible (again, when it looks like the blade isn’t cutting the mixture anymore). Add the melted chocolate and process until as smooth as possible. (My total run time was around 7 minutes).
If you like a smoother spread, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or sieve to remove any small chunks of hazelnuts. (I didn’t strain it and left it as is. Might have taken out some of the “grit.”)
Scrape into a jar or other resealable container and let it cool to room temperature. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.