To be 100% honest I am not a true Nutella aficionado. To be sure, I like it - but I have never been able to really get into eating it straight from the jar by the spoonful. And don't get me started on those ridiculous tv commercials that claim it is a nutritious breakfast. pshaw! But still, I do like it.
We have crepes for breakfast every Christmas morning. This last year I thought (being intrigued by the many recipes offered online) that I should try making a homemade version of Nutella to fill some of our crepes. As the recipes all looked dead simple I was not concerned about the outcome. Turns out I should have been. It was not a success. Disappointed but not beaten I was determined to make my own and finally got back to the project. This time it was not simply successful but wonderful. I figured a few things out that I must admit I wish had been spelled out and were not - not in even one of the recipes I read.
The first thing (and this I must admit was written into the recipes but I just didn't really believe it) is when the directions say to process the nuts until they 'liquify' they really mean liquid - not paste, not runny paste, but actually liquid. It is pretty cool to watch it happen, and it is critical to let it get to that point.
The second thing I learned is that when the honey is added to the nut 'liquid' DO NOT over-process. You will be sorry if you do because what you will get is a stiff quasi-fudge. Totally un-spreadable and very disappointing.
Aside from those two important points, making 'nutella' really is dead simple. It is delicious and, without the additives in the commercial spread, it may even make (part of) a nutritious breakfast. Certainly a reasonable treat. I must confess I am now absolutely converted to eating it straight-from-the-jar-by-the-spoonful. Anything else seems kind of silly. Really.
(adapted from the Encyclopedie du Chocolat by way of David Lebovitz)
1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup skim milk powder
1 1/2 Tbsp mild honey
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate
Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast them at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes, giving the pan a shake two or three times. You want nice golden, very fragrant nuts. Transfer the nuts to a damp tea towel, gather into a bundle, and rub together to remove the skins. While still warm, put the nuts into the bowl of a food processor and process until they are very runny - liquid. Be patient, it happens.
Meanwhile combine the milk, milk powder, honey and salt in a small saucepan over gentle heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. (It shouldn't take much more than a minute and a half - just keep stirring.)
Now it's time to add the milk and the chocolate to the nuts - and time to be a tiny bit careful. Don't just let the food processor run. You want to simply pulse the chocolate and milk into the nuts. If you over-process you will end up disappointed, with something that tastes good but is nothing like Nutella in texture. The more you process, the harder it seizes. Trust me on this. To be safe, one could simply stir the milk mixture and melted chocolate into the nuts.
This makes about 2 cups of 'nutella'. Initially I wondered how we would eat it all. Silly me.