OK. So I am a fiend for nuts and chocolate of any kind, and when it comes to chocolate and hazelnuts, even more so. I remember the first time I ever tasted brand name Nutella: I was on a school trip to Epcot Center in Disneyworld sometime in middle school and I bought a small packet of it in the little French village. (I know, I know…the stuff is actually Italian, but you’ll have to talk to Walt about the reorg on European food.) It was SO GOOD. Like, really good. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even eat it on bread or anything; it’s quite possible I just squeezed the entire contents of it into my mouth, then went back and tried to squeeze out some more.
Fast forward to my college years and I became a Riot Grrl and completely engrossed in the DIY aesthetic of everything. I was making my own zines, cutting and duct taping my own clothes, and starting to make my own food (beyond instant Lipton Noodles & Sauce from a pouch). I began making my own condiments like ketchup and mustard and mayonnaise, and odd as it may sound, doing so felt like a very revolutionary act. I loved not being held to the confines of Kraft and ConAgra, and I loved the control that being in the kitchen and stocking my shelves gave me.
This passion and food lust led to a career as a food writer and cookbook author, and that afforded me the luxury of being able to make more food my own way. I would find a product at the store, look at all the junk on the ingredient label, and then take pride and pleasure in recreating that recipe in my own kitchen with real food. Nutella, known in Italy as gianduja, and known in North America as chocolate hazelnut spread, was eventually checked off my list.
When Bloom, the chocolate salon inside our 16th Street Factory, was doing its friends and family meals, I tasted Lisa’s bruleed brioche with her take on a homemade “Nutella”. It’s sublimely creamy and entirely decadent. And on the sticks of crisp, sweet, enriched bread, it’s an exercise in rich. For chocolate enthusiasts and anyone with a sweet tooth, it is exceptional.
In our book, Making Chocolate From Bean to S’more, Lisa and the kitchen team stuff this cream inside cookies, which seems like a dessert lover’s dessert. Meredyth was the first to think about making the chocolate hazelnut cream in a melanger, the stone-wheeled grinder that we use to make chocolate. I’m sure this is what gets our in-house version so super creamy; more so than most of us could accomplish at home.
For those of us who don’t own our own melanger, we still have options; a food processor will also do the job. I have a version of the recipe in one of my cookbooks, but lately I’ve been making it even more simply and delicious.
I weigh the hazelnuts, toast them, and remove the skin; this is essential, as the skin is really bitter. While the nuts are still warm, I put them into the food processor with an equal weight of our Chef’s Chocolate. I blend it thoroughly, then add some salt and about ¼ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Then I blend it for a long, long time—five minutes, at least—until it’s super smooth and liquidy. Once it’s scraped into a jar and refrigerated, the texture firms and it becomes quite smooth and spreadable, particularly once it hits warm toast. Try it also spread onto fruit or simply eaten from a spoon :>.
For the real deal, though, follow our kitchen’s recipe below. Enjoy!
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
from Making Chocolate: Bean to Bar to S’more
Yield: About 2 cups
1 cup / 140 grams / 5 ounces blanched hazelnuts
3/4 cup / 212 grams / 7 1/2 ounces melted 70% chocolate (Karen’s note: Chef’s Chocolate works great here)
1/2 cup / 100 grams / 3 1/2 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon / 2 grams kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F (176.7°C). Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely, then chop the nuts coarsely.
In a heavy-duty food processor, combine the hazelnuts, chocolate, sugar, and salt, blending them until completely smooth. The longer the mixture is processed, the smoother it will be; we recommend blending for at least 5 minutes on high speed. Enjoy on toast or waffles, or spread it on your favorite slices of fruit. The mixture can be stored in an airtight container or jar at room temperature for several weeks.
NOTE: At Dandelion, we make our version with a mini melanger. If you have one at home, simply add all the ingredients to the stone grinder, and let it grind for at least 30 minutes.