Last year, I made the confession of all confessions. I was on the fence about Nutella, and while I was enamored with some Nutella cookies that I made, I still wasn’t completely sold. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but it just wasn’t living up to the high expectations that the foodie world had set for it. When I first started flipping through my new favorite DIY cookbook last year and marking recipes to try, the homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread didn’t set the world on fire for me. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I revisited the book that I took a second glance at the recipe. The rest, as they say, is history.
In the recipe headnote, it mentioned that commercial chocolate-hazelnut spreads often lack real nut flavor and can taste plasticky. Yes, that! Since it seemed like they were speaking my language, I decided that if anything might change my mind, it would be this homemade version. Turns out, I was right. I haven’t been able to put the spoon down since this finished churning in my food processor!
In addition to being one of the easiest recipes you’re likely to find, it has officially changed my mind when it comes to the chocolate-hazelnut spread phenomenon. Maybe it has to do with actually making it myself, but the flavor truly cannot be beat. The nut flavor comes bursting through and the chocolate gives it such depth. I guess this in line with the notion that if kids help make a meal they are more likely to eat it ;-)
Eat it, I did! I ate quite a few spoonfuls before I decided I should probably try it on something else. As it turns out, graham crackers and apples are both perfect companions for your homemade Nutella. As are about a million other things, I’m sure! I can’t wait to break out the tub of pretzel rods with this jar.
Since I gave up peanut butter for Lent, I may have just found myself a very worthy substitute for the next 38 days. My grandma used to pull the one-two punch – layering peanut butter then Nutella on her morning toast. Such a trendsetter, she was! I only wish she were here to taste this homemade version. I have no doubt she would love it and gobble it up as quickly as I could make it.
I have learned a very valuable lesson here. If I don’t care much for a packaged product, give it a homemade whirl before totally dismissing it. As it turns out, the concept is phenomenal, and this recipe’s execution makes it absolutely perfect. I’m so thrilled to finally jump on the chocolate-hazelnut train!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts out on a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until dark brown and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Keep a close eye on them, as they can go from perfect roasted to burnt in a short amount of time. Transfer the hazelnuts to a medium-sized bowl.
Once the hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, place a second bowl upside-down on top of the bowl with the hazelnuts. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to remove the skins of the hazelnuts. It may take a few times to get all of the skins off; each time, remove the hazelnuts that have lost their skin to the bowl of a food processor, then continue shaking.
Process the hazelnuts in a food processor until their oil is released and they form a smooth, loose paste, 2 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl often.
Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, hazelnut oil, vanilla extract and salt and process until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes. The mixture will loosen and become glossy. Transfer the spread to a jar with a tight-fitting lid or an airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 1 month.
If you want to do away with having to remove the hazelnut skins, you could purchase blanched hazelnuts, which I might try next time.
I was not able to find hazelnut oil at any local grocery stores (including Whole Foods), so I ended up ordering it from Nuts.com. You could substitute walnut oil or vegetable oil, but the hazelnut oil really helps give the spread a silky smooth texture.
You can substitute regular unsweetened cocoa powder for the Dutch-processed cocoa powder.