As kids, my brother and I could never get enough Nutella. If we were lucky enough to get hold of a jar – usually as a present from Santa – we would not stop scooping its content out with a spoon until we reached the bottom of the jar (or we got busted by the parents). Nutella does seem highly addictive and once you know there is a jar of it nearby, it seems to be calling out to you ’eat me! eat me! eat me!’.
These days, I am a bit more discerning when it comes to food. To be honest, knowing that 2 tablespoons of Nutella contains over 20 grams of sugar has put me off a bit. However this perfect combination of roasted hazelnuts and chocolate is still hard to resist. I have therefore decided to make a homemade version, which, while it certainly isn’t diet food, has much less sugar and no processed palm oil. Instead, it contains heaps of real hazelnuts and a small amount of dark chocolate. Try out my hazelnut and chocolate spread and let me know how you liked it!
3 tbsp of brown sugar dissolved in 3 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp regular espresso
50 g of dark 70% cocoa chocolate
seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or a few drops of vanilla essence)
Set the oven to 180° C / 350° F. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and roast for about 6 minutes until they are just golden (you don’t want them to turn brown as they will taste bitter). If using unpeeled nuts, roast them for a bit longer. Once ready, put them into a clean kitchen towel and rub them against each other so that skins become loose and come off more easily. Don’t worry if there are a few stubborn ones with skin left on.
While the roasted nuts are cooling off, prepare the sugar syrup by dissolving brown sugar in 3 tbsp of water on a very low heat. In a separate bowl melt the chocolate over a water bath. Prepare your espresso.
Once hazelnuts have cooled down, put them into a food processor and process until the nuts release their natural oil and the mixture reaches a smooth consistency. Don’t be discouraged if it looks like it won’t happen; it will. This really depends on how powerful your food processor is and it may take some time. The mixture goes through various stages (see the picture in this post), make sure to stop the processor now and then and scrape the mixture off the walls. If your food processor gets too warm, give it a rest for a few minutes and resume once it has cooled down.
Once the nut butter has reached the correct consistency, add in melted chocolate, salt, vanilla seeds, espresso and sugar syrup. Process until smoothish – (you won’t be able to achieve super smooth consistency unless you have a kick-arse food machine like a Vitamix) but I personally do not mind that you can see bits of ground nuts. It makes it more rustic and real.
Once you add chocolate to the mix, it may seem like the mixture has gone funny, it all bunches up again into a glistening mass. Don’t worry, at this point add a bit of water, a little at a time and keep on processing until the mixture loosens up a bit. Some recipes out there use coconut oil to make the mixture more creamy, for example, but I find it unnecessary given that nuts have so much oil in them already.
Once ready, put the spread into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge, if you are able to stop yourself from eating it all in one go, that is:)