09 December 2010

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Yes, Nutella.

Well, Nutella for adults.

Well, Nutella for adults without that super sweetness and the strange preservative chemicals and a texture you can't quite identify . . .

You get the idea. Make this, and make it now, and never look back. Grab some crusty bread, smear this on, and treat yourself to a truly blissful moment in which the hectic holiday season just melts around you into a puddle of rich, creamy, decadent hazelnut and chocolate.

After all, you deserve this, don't you?

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
make about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (dutch-processed is fine, and what I used)
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp neutral oil, like canola

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Put hazelnuts and almonds on a rimmed sheet, but keep them separate (yet equal . . .) Toast them 8-10 minutes, or until they're fragrant and the hazelnut skins are peeling back. Remove from oven.

Now, this is the only annoying step: put the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel, wrap them up, and roll your hands over them like you're scrubbing the dirt from them. Aren't you glad you kept them separate from the almonds? You're just removing the skins, and they don't have to be perfect. Do your best, but don't fret about those few that just won't let go.

Combine hazelnuts & almonds in a dry food processor and blend those babies until they're smooth and creamy, 4-5 minutes. It really does take that long for the nuts to break down to the point where they'll release their oil to get a creamy butter. If you don't do it long enough it will still taste good, but it'll be more like that natural peanut butter you grind yourself in the supermarket: dry, pasty, and not quite what you were expecting.

When the nuts are smooth like drinkable calories, add the cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt. I always go a little heavy on the salt because it really brings out the chocolate flavour. It's a preference, so use your judgement, you know? Blend well. The oil is for consistency only. You want to add only enough to bring the spread back to, well, a spread. My last batch used 2 Tbsp, but you might need more or less. Blend for about 2 minutes to ensure the oil is emulsified.

My sources tell me this can store on the countertop for over a month, but I'd throw it in the fridge for keeping. Oh, who am I kidding? There's not gonna be leftovers.

  • Don't skip the oven toasting of the nuts. Not only does it enable you to skin the hazelnuts, but it also removes the excess moisture from the nuts. If you don't remove the moisture, you'll end up with chunks and paste instead of a smooth, oily butter, and while it will taste the same, it won't be the same.
  • I'm serious about the salt; I may have put almost a 1/2 tsp in my last batch, but don't do it just because I said. Use wisdom, children, and be smart.
  • This is not going to be "just like Nutella," and I think it's better for it. It's not quite as sweet, and has a richer chocolate flavour. If you feel it needs extra cocoa or sugar, then add it, but keep in mind you may need to add more oil at the end to thin it out.
  • I imagine this would be delightful with hazelnut oil instead of a neutral one, but I never ever have it, and I'm guessing you usually don't either. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

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