This container of hazelnuts had been sitting on our counter since Thanksgiving - a leftover from the cooking frenzy. I did not know exactly what to do with them so I let them sit for
a few weeks well over a month while I pondered my options.
My friend, Ben recommended toasting them and putting them in salads. It sounded tasty so I went ahead and toasted them all. The smell coming from our toaster oven was beyond heavenly... I ate a few of the toasted nuts and was hooked on their amazing flavor.
But when I saw this recipe for homemade Nutella pop up on David Leite's (of Leite's Culinaria) Facebook feed two days ago, I knew I'd found the right way to use my toasted hazelnuts.
I was kind of daunted by the idea of making chocolate hazelnut spread from scratch until I took a look at David's simple recipe - it's really not so tough after all! It's a pretty basic mixture of ground hazelnuts and melted chocolate with a few other ingredients blended in.
I'd already toasted the nuts. The next step was to remove the skins - a little tedious (though those of you who are more evolved than I am might find it "meditative") but not hard at all.
Then into the cuisinart they went where I ground them into a paste.
Then added canola oil, a little confectioner's sugar, some cocoa powder, a dash of salt and a little vanilla extract and blended again until smooth.Then I added the melted chocolate and blended it again.
The resulting spread is divine, very rich, with a stronger roasted hazelnut flavor than Nutella. It solidified overnight but you can always warm it in a bowl of warm water or zap it in the microwave for a few seconds if you're having trouble spreading it. Below is a pic I took of it before it spent a few seconds in the microwave - still spreadable but a little more work than the stuff I heated up was.
I am storing mine in an old Bon Maman jam jar since it's got a screw-on lid and I also love the look of 'em. Use it just like you'd normally use Nutella and enjoy the fact that it is even tastier and does not have any of the additives and preservatives in the store-bought version.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (recipe via Christie Matheson at Leite's Culinaria)
Makes one 18 oz jar
* 1 cup hazelnuts
* 12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
* 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as canola
* 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
* 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. (I recommend using your toaster oven as it's a waste of energy to heat your entire oven for this small amount of nuts.)
2. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them for about 12 minutes, checking once or twice and turning as needed, until they’ve browned a little and the skins are blistered. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously or put them in a yogurt container and shake hard for a few seconds to remove as much loose skin as possible. There will still be some skin clinging to the nuts when you're finished - it's okay. Let cool completely.
3. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over gently simmering water or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
4. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible (unless you prefer to have a chunkier spread). Add the melted chocolate and blend well. Store the spread in a glass jar with an airtight lid on the counter for up to two weeks.
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