Many years go I purchased a Vitamix, Professional Series 300. Having gone through various brands of blenders, I was excited to finally get one with a strong reputation.
I also purchased a smaller blender jar for dry ingredients. I’d always thought it would be fun as well as economical to make nut butters. But have I? No.
While on a road trip in November, I read many food magazines (doesn’t everyone?) and came across this recipe. Chocolate hazelnut spread that is better than nutella. Nutella is pretty darn good, but home-made is always better of course. So I knew this would be the recipe to christen that dry blender jar.
I used my cell phone to photograph the recipe and unfortunately do not remember from which magazine this recipe came, but I did find it on Epicurious.com.
Here’s what I did to make the “real” Nutella, based on the above ingredients; my verdict below.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, or Gianduja
2 cups (heaping) hazelnuts, preferably skinned (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Toast the hazelnuts on the stove in a cast iron skillet. Let cool.
Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a fairly smooth, buttery paste forms, about 1 minute.
Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Melt slowly and stir until smooth and shiny.
So here’s the deal – my hazelnuts and sugar never formed a “buttery paste” like they were supposed to. So I added all of the cream to the blender. You can see from the photo, the blender was working hard to combine the hazelnut mixture with the cream.
The resulting mixture was stiff and thick, but smooth and not gritty.
The recipe says to “whisk in cream and salt, then hazelnut paste.” Since my hazelnut paste already contained the cream, I simply folded the hazelnut mixture into the chocolate, gradually, stirring well.
Pour gianduja into four clean 8 ounce jars, dividing equally. Let cool.
Gianduja can be made up to 4 weeks ahead; keep chilled.
Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours to soften. Can stand at room temperature up to 4 days.
If you don’t know what to do with chocolate hazelnut spread besides eat it with a spoon, I’ve got a few suggestions:
1. Spread in warm crepes, roll and eat.
2. Thin with cream and serve drizzled over a fresh-out-of-the-oven Dutch Baby or Crespella.
3. Fold gently with beaten whipped cream for an instant mousse.
For a treat, I spread some chocolate-hazelnut spread on buttered toast.
verdict: I’m befuddled as to why my hazelnuts didn’t grind into a hazelnut butter. Secondly, the recipe claims that the nutella will thicken; mine was already really thick, and definitely not “pourable.” My husband said that the spread reminded him of cupcake batter, which I think is an excellent comparison. Also, I would suggest 12 ounces of chocolate instead of 16 ounces, or use bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet. It was too chocolatey for me.
So is this stuff good? Yes, but I will tweak the recipe next time.