I’ve always liked Nutella, but it wasn’t until I moved to Austria, land of hazelnuts, that I learned to really appreciate it. The Austrians put hazelnuts in so many desserts (not that I’m complaining) that you’d think they’d never seen any other kind of nut.
A few weeks ago I was perusing some of my favorite food blogs, when I came across a post declaring the upcoming World Nutella Day. Now I don’t know who decided that February 5th would be a global celebration of the creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread, but who am I to argue with a good idea? So Nutella became the featured ingredient of my next sweet creation.
I’m a huge fan of homemade. Homemade vanilla extract, homemade marshmallows, and homemade marzipan are all simpler than you think to whip up and super fresh and tasty as well. So there was no way I was just going to go out and buy a jar of Nutella when I could easily make my own. I found this homemade Nutella recipe on David Leite’s site Leite’s Culinaria. The ingredient list is remarkably simple. While the commercial version is delightfully (if not overpoweringly) sweet with sugar as its first ingredient, this homemade version puts the hazelnuts front and center.
For anyone who has tried to skin hazelnuts, you know what a pain it can be to remove all of those thin, tightly bound skins. I’ve tried a trick before of boiling hazelnuts with baking soda, which worked fine, but was more time consuming than the toasting method here. Plus, that crazy black water stained one of my dish towels something nasty.
If you're not a hazelnut fan, or just want to experiment, you can substitute other nuts into this recipe. Just be aware that the oil content between nuts can vary, but you should be able to compensate with more or less vegetable oil.
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 12 oz (340 g) good quality milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (i prefer dutch-processed)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’ve browned a little and the skins are slightly blistered. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible. Let cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over gently simmering water or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.
- In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until they release their natural oils and form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible, or as smooth as you like. Add the melted chocolate, blend well, and then strain the mixture to remove any chunks of hazelnut that remain. The resulting homemade Nutella will be thin and somewhat runny and maybe even a little warm but it will thicken as it cools. Scrape your homemade nutella into a jar or other resealable container and let it cool to room temperature. The nutella will keep on the counter for up to 2 weeks.