January 2019 – Nutella
I should start by saying that Nutella is a brand name so perhaps I should call this recipe “hazelnut chocolate spread”. Whatever you wish to call it the flavour of chocolate combined with hazelnut is classic and was used much earlier than Nutella which I first saw around the early 1980’s. When it first became widely available I remember the eagerness with which people devoured this new and addictive creation. The combination of chocolate and hazelnut was actually originally created to get around the ban of importing chocolate which was imposed by Napoleon.
A Chocolatier named Michele Prochet added a little hazelnuts to his chocolate to get around the ban. This later evolved into a paste called gianduja which can still be seen in some coffee shops as a chocolate treat and this later evolved into a Nutella called “pasta Gianduja” or chocolate hazelnut paste. The gianduja originated in Piedmont where hazelnuts of superb quality are produced. Nutella is mass produced and this is where some people have an issue with Nutella as the paste uses palm oil in its manufacture.
Palm oil is a sticky fatty oil that has a unique setting quality, however, the product has one major characteristic that makes it very unpopular in that much deforestation is undertaken to produce palm oil and therefore it has a very poor reputation for people with a conscious about a carbon footprint and preservation. People also would like to have a version with reduced sugar not because it is too sweet but because they are concerned about reducing refined carbohydrates in all food stuffs.
So are there answers to these issues?
Well a better tasting version and less sweet version of Nutella is possible but let me say from the off that the ingredients cannot be purchased off the shelf of a normal supermarket and the ingredients are more expensive than simply buying the standard jar.
For my recipe I use excellent quality milk chocolate and bitter chocolate to give the authentic chocolate flavour. To obtain the hazelnut flavour and smooth texture you will need to purchase some praline paste. Praline paste is a combination of roasted hazelnuts and caramelised sugar usually in ratios of 50/50 or 1:1 as it’s known in the trade. I buy mine from keylink (link via Tim loves button on website).
I have made a home-made version from roasted hazelnuts with equal amounts of caramelised sugar of this product but you will need a very powerful grinder to make this without breaking your food processor. This product is best purchased. Praline paste usually comes in a 1kg tub and retails for around £13. You can get this on amazon easily if you do not have an account with keylink.
To obtain the smooth texture I use a combination of praline paste, sunflower oil to replace the frowned upon palm oil a pinch of salt and 1g of vanilla extract and a combination of both milk and dark chocolate to get the cocoa/sugar balance right with a setting texture similar to the shop-bought product. This recipe make one jar of the best hazelnut chocolate spread ever, not cheap but gorgeous and ethically reassuring.
The Nutella is best made the day before as it takes a little time to set, do not be tempted to place into the fridge or it sets to hard just be patient and wait a day for it to firm up.
Nutella (Chocolate & Hazelnut Spread)
250g praline paste 1:1 (50% sugar)
20g milk chocolate
70g dark chocolate 70%
0.85g (1/8th) salt
0.5g (1/8th) vanilla extract
40g sunflower oil
1. Melt the milk and dark chocolate in a bowl in the microwave.
2. Add the praline paste and oil and whisk in.
3. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk in.
4. Pour into a 1lb jar.
5. Store at room temperature.
6. Keeps for about 3 weeks (or 5 minutes if you are a chocoholic).