Nutella? That’s for kids right? And you can just pick up a jar in any food shop so why on earth would you want to make your own?
These are good and valid questions but I think I also have some good and valid answers to them.
First of all no. Just no. Nutella is NOT just for kids – why should they get all the good stuff? Call it hazelnut and chocolate spread and it already sounds more grown up. And don’t pretend you don’t eat it yourself. By the spoonful. When no one is looking.
So, that brings us to the next question “why would you make it yourself?”. Well, when I started seeing lots of “make your own Nutella” recipes on Pinterest I asked the same question. Then I looked at the ingredients in the original:
The main ingredient is sugar, lots of sugar, nearly 57% to be exact. That’s more than half the jar. That’s followed by Palm Oil. Lots of people have a problem with palm oil because demand has led to large areas of deforestation across Indonesia which, in turn, has destroyed the habitat of the orangutan. Both species of orangutan are now endangered, the Sumatran orangutan is listed as critically endangered.
Next on the list are hazelnuts and cocoa (as you might expect) followed by skimmed milk powder and whey powder (which you might not), lecithin (a stabiliser made from soya) and finally vanillin (a synthetic vanilla flavouring).
Well, I guess you never thought it was a health food – nothing that tasty ever is.
My next question was “can I make a version that is tasty and a little healthier?” So I started looking for recipes. I found about 12. All of them were different. Some used sugar, some used maple syrup, some added milk powder, some added condensed milk, some used plain chocolate, some used milk chocolate, some used raw cacao, some added vegetable oil, some didn’t bother. They all used hazelnuts though!
I started thinking about what I wanted from my nutella. I wanted it to be simple and I wanted it to be grown up. I decided to start with the simplest of recipes knowing I could add to it later if necessary.
So I started with hazelnuts and plain chocolate in a 2:1 ratio. It was rich and bitter (in a good way) and I loved it. However, I decided that it could be improved bythe addition of a little sea salt and some vanilla. That made it perfect for me. If you want yours to be a little sweeter add some honey, or maple syrup or maybe some agave. If you want it to be a little runnier (and sweeter) try adding some condensed milk (a tablespoonful at a time until it suits you). If you want it to be vegan use vegetable oil instead. If your kids don’t like the bitterness of plain chocolate try making it with milk chocolate. Experiment, it’s worth it.
However you make it you will need a a really good food processor / blender. Mine is a little on its last legs and it left the nuts slightly grainy. I don’t actually mind a bit of texture but if smoothness is important to you just be warned.
In the interests of fairness this is still a high calorie, high fat (nuts are always high in fat) product but the sugar content is significantly reduced – just 10% in this recipe.
And it is perfect for putting in your pancakes on Tuesday!
100g Plain Chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
A pinch of Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes at 180 C until lightly toasted.
If you bought blanched hazelnuts you can blend them straight away, if not you will need to remove the skins by rubbing the nuts vigorously in a tea towel whilst still hot. They don’t need to be perfect but the effort is worth it as the skins can be bitter.
Place the nuts in a food processor or power blender and turn it on full. After a few minutes you will have ground hazelnuts – keep going. After a few more minutes you will have a thick paste which clumps around the blade (you could turn this into hazelnut butter) – keep going. Eventually the paste will become more liquidy – be patient – it’s worth it.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).
When the nuts have reached the desired consistency pour in the melted chocolate and the vanilla and add a pinch of salt. Blitz until well blended.
Taste before you take it out of the food processor. If it’s not quite to your taste add some more stuff (see above) until it is. Pour into a sterilised jar and keep in a cool dark place. The fridge is too cool and it will get a bit too stiff to spread*. Just remember that it contains no preservatives so it won’t last more than a week.
*nb – if you add dairy products such as condensed milk it is probably best to keep it in the fridge.