The winter here on the east coast can be quite dangerous—not only because our weather can be so unpredictably cold and snowy but also because when the weather is so terrible, I spend a good bit of my time in the kitchen coming up with new recipes and techniques to share with my loyal readers. The danger comes about when you are faced with the task of trying your creation over and over again with every recipe change or nuance that you make, and then find yourself hoping that you can still fit into your clothes the next day…
This week was a prime example– several inches of snow and subsequent freezing temperatures did not encourage me to venture out, not even for grocery shopping. I awoke on the weekend to more even more snowflakes. I don’t know about you, but I find it comforting to stay home on such days and do what I love most…
I had been reviewing a few recipes for homemade nutella for a while and just had not had the time to try them. This morning I got up with a hankering for some fresh baked bread — and what’s better to enjoy with warm, fresh bread than something chocolatey. I decided to make some of my ciabatta bread because I just love the chewy crust and soft interior, and this would do just fine. Recently, I watched a food segment on how Nutella is made. It almost seemed as though the universe was prompting me to use those hazelnuts I had purchased and stashed in the freezer a few months before for this exact purpose.
So, on this day, my recipe for homemade Nutella was going to come together…
As it turns out, Nutella’s greatest enemy is moisture, so the manufacturing process begins with a good, slow roasting of the hazelnuts to remove as much of the moisture as possible. The resulting nuts are then finely chopped and combined with powdered sugar, dry cocoa powder, milk and whey powders along with some dried vanilla. A shortening is then added to the smooth mixture out and then the whole thing is creamed a little more, and then jarred.
When doing my research on a recipe that I could try, I found that many of the homemade recipes were using melted chocolate and vanilla and I did not want to do that. I also wanted to make mine as smooth as possible to mimic the traditional smooth, hazelnut texture we all know and love.
After making it, I was so surprised at how delicious this homemade version turned out to be. When you look at the other ingredients on the label, it is so much healthier to make it yourself, especially when it’s this easy to do.
After putting it all together, you could still smell and taste the main ingredient of roasted hazelnuts in the final product. Mine came out a little darker than the traditional version, because I used a darker cocoa poder, but it was still absolutely delicious in every way. All I can say is that the love affair between bread and chocolate was truly made in heaven…
1 cup hazelnuts without skins, roasted
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons cocoa butter, finely chopped ** or you can use coconut oil or extra shortening if you don’t have this
1 tablespoon dried whole milk
1 tablespoon dried whey
NOTE: I did not have any dried vanilla, so I did not use it. If you would like to add a vanilla essence to the spread, you can dry a vanilla bean and store it in the I cup of powdered sugar that will be used for the Nutella a few weeks before making this. The vanilla essence will flavor the sugar and will add that extra delicious fragrance to the end result. Another option is to air dry half of a vanilla pod and finely grind it in your food processor, then add it into the nuts and grind it again with the other ingredients. DO NOT use vanilla extract in this.
If the nuts you are starting with have skins on them, they must be removed once the nuts are roasted. In order to roast the nuts correctly, place the cup of nuts onto a paper lined sheet pan and place them in a pre-heated 325°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to check them every five minutes and remove them when they have taken on a nice golden brown color and you notice a strong aroma of hazelnuts—that’s a good indication that they are done. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, place them in a clean kitchen towel and rub off the skins.
Next place the nuts into the food processor with ½ cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of cocoa and allow them to grind as finely as they can. We do not want to turn this into butter, so make sure that the nuts do not process too long on the first go around. Pour the nut mixture through a fine sieve and into a bowl to collect the nut powder that has formed. Place the remaining chunks back into the food processor and repeat the procedure with the other ½ cup of powdered sugar and another tablespoon of cocoa powder. Again, once it has processed, pass it through the sieve again.
The remaining few nut pieces were then placed into a small grinder. I then processed it until it turned into a paste…
I added the paste and the sifted powder back into the food processor, along with the third tablespoon of coco powder, the shortening, cocoa butter, milk powder and whey. Process all of this together for about 2-3 minutes until it has all liquefied. The heat from the processor will melt everything, but do not worry, it will set up again at room temperature.
Once you have achieved the liquefied version, pass this again through the strainer and into your bowl or storage jar or container. Allow this to stand on the counter at room temperature for an hour until it sets up completely, then cover and store at room temperature.
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