Homemade Nutella

homemade-nutella-recipe

What comes to mind when you think of culinary pairings that seem to make magic together, so absolutely made for each other you can’t imagine tasting one without the other?

I can think of a few right off the bat, like:

lime + ginger

basil + tomatoes

olive oil + garlic

and last but not least:

chocolate + hazelnuts.

In one of my favorite new books, The Flavour Thesaurus, author Niki Segnit writes that when cocoa became scarce and  expensive during the late 19th century, chocolate manufacturers in the Italian Piedmont “bulked out” their product with a paste of hazelnuts, which grew plentifully in the region, thus introducing to the world the taste sensation known as gianduja.

All I can say to the genius who stumbled upon this marriage of convenience is THANK YOU.

Millions of hungry, sugar loving children and their families are grateful, since the discovery eventually led to the production of Nutella, and from there, well, we all know the story.

Let’s just agree that chocolate-hazelnut spread on a piece of bread kicks the ass out of your every day PBJ sandwich.

I love the idea of making my own version of Nutella – as much as I adore the store-bought version, it can be a bit cloyingly sweet. Also when I check the label I’m a little dismayed to see that these days the spread can be ‘bulked out’ with partially hydrogenated oils.

I was inspired by a few different recipes here – one from raw food chef Ani Phyo and another from the LA Times.

After applying my appropriate tweaks, I’m happy to share the results with you. Be aware that the texture is not completely velvety smooth, like the stuff that comes out of a jar. Food processors are a wonder, but can’t completely pulverize the nuts to an ultra fine puree.

However, I enjoy the resulting texture – plus the flavor of this homemade version is so real and luscious it’s almost beyond comparison to anything you can buy.

Homemade Nutella

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups toasted hazelnuts *
  2. 1/2 cup agave nectar
  3. 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  7. about 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor workbowl until they form a coarse paste. You'll need to scrape the bowl down a few times to fully incorporate.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the water and continue to process until somewhat smooth.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the water until you achieve a smooth, emulsified consistency, keeping in mind that you might not need all the water, or might need a bit more.
  4. Scrape the spread into a container and chill in the refrigerator until spreadable; it will keep for about a week. Bring to room temperature before spreading on toast, pouring over ice cream, or directly into your mouth...

Notes

I like the organic, neutral flavor of Omega Nutrtion coconut oil

* To toast hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the nuts turn light brown. I don't bother with trying to rub off the skins - I find it too much trouble and the results are about the same.

http://familystylefood.com/2010/06/homemade-nutella/

Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

We spent spring break at home last week, and I have to admit I dreaded it a tiny bit. My kids usually have a gang of friends in our neighborhood to hang with, but it seemed like they all flew south for a taste of warm sun, leaving my brood in a state of social withdrawal. I imagined long rainy days stuck inside while their boredom escalated to deafening levels.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law L flew in from Portland to entertain and play with us – happiness all around!

I came home one afternoon to find her in the kitchen with the kids, applying lashings of creamy frosting to the tops of just-baked little chocolate cupcakes, something I know an attentive Mrs. Cleaver might attempt with her family, but I never seem to. That must be what aunts are for, I think.

The cupcake recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic book Baking: From My Home to Yours. Dorie is a perfectionist, and her recipes are crafted to a precise “T”. Perfect recipe instructions are especially important in baking recipes; those chemical reactions that happen in the oven rely on exact measurements of ingredients, time and temperature.

These cupcakes are no exception; they turned out just as promised – dark, moist, not too sweet – glazed with a shiny, bakery-like chocolate frosting. L sprinkled some colored candy sprinkles on the cupcakes, reserving a few with a sprinkle of sea salt, a just reward for the adults in need of a chocolate fix.

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Everyone needs at least one go-to chocolate recipe, like stashing a little black dress in the recipe file.

This chocolate soufflè cake is like that perfect dress – deceptively basic but oh-so delicious in action. I pull this recipe out of my hat for last minute desserts as well as a last course for my clients requesting a chocolate ending for dinner parties.

I very slightly adapted this recipe from Alice Medrich’s book Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts. Yes, the cake is not only simple to make but not full of calories – that isn’t the reason I like it so much, but still good to know. Despite having little fat, the cake turns out with a soft, pudding-like texture and rich choocolate flavor.

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Yield: 6 cakes

You can make this into one single cake instead of separate ones by using an 8-inch springform pan; bake for 25 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon softened butter
  2. 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 3 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1/2 cup boiling water
  7. 2 egg yolks
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  9. 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  10. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  11. 1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground

Instructions

  1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Brush softened butter all over the inside of 6 1-cup souffle cups or ramekins and coat with granulated sugar. Place the cups on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
  4. Whisk the flour and almonds together and stir into the chocolate. Fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon the batter evenly into the cups.
  5. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool on a rack 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cups and invert to release each cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a sprinkle of cocoa, powdered sugar or warm chocolate sauce.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/02/chocolate-souffle-cake/