Sunday, May 30, 2010

Better than Nutella

Nutella is one of those foods that I just won't buy. Not since my freshman year in college anyway. Back then I bought it twice or three times when I first moved into the dorms. I ate it on everything from toast to fruit and it was especially good right off a spoon directly from the jar. Of course each jar disappeared all too quickly (a week or less a piece), and I decided Nutella was a food better left in Supermarket. 
The next three years went by without so much as a thought of, or even craving for Nutella until one misty morning in early 2009. I was in India, in the city of Varanasi (formerly known as Benaras). I sat down to breakfast and on the table was a jar of Nutella and a basket of bread. I remembered it's smooth, creamy texture and immediately toasted a slice of bread, spread a thick layer of the dreamy, chocolatey, goodness and took a bite. It was just as I'd remembered it. Better, actually, because by then I had been in India for over two weeks and I was definitely missing familiar foods. I ate a few more slices, closed the jar and went about the next year as I had the past three. 
Then one day this past February, I made my own Nutella. I figured if I made it myself, I can control what goes into it. I can make the main ingredient nuts instead of sugar, I can leave out the preservatives and I can certainly leave out the hydrogenated oils. My first attempt came out alright. I used a tiny food processor and the texture wasn't spectacular. I used honey for the sweetener and it lent a taste that I said I didn't mind, but later decided wasn't my favorite. Last but not least every recipe I looked at had added oil so I added a bit as well - just to try to smooth it out. The result was good and I was completely thrilled with it at the time, but I didn't find myself making it again. In fact, I pretty much forgot about Nutella altogether, until I spied an especially delicious looking chocolate croissant in the bakery the other day. It reminded me of when I used to eat croissants slathered with the stuff in high school. 

I decided to try again. 
Only this time, it would be different. 
This time, it would be better.
This time, it would be so good, I wouldn't even call it Nutella.
This time, it would be better than Nutella.
I used an 11-cup food processor, powdered sugar and no added oil. After all, the nuts have plenty of oil in them already and that really should be sufficient. It turns out I was right. Just 4 ingredients made the best chocolate-hazelnut spread I've ever tasted with less fat, calories and sugar than Nutella.
Better than Nutella
It's important to use a food processor with a capacity of 11-cups or larger otherwise the nuts will not smooth out properly. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cups hazelnuts
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.

Since the skin is bitter, you’ll want to discard them. Wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel, and rub until most of the skins have come off. Don’t worry if you can’t get off all the skins.

Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter.

When the nuts are liquified, add the cocoa and vanilla.
Next add the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until the mixture reaches your desired texture and sweetness. Make sure you scrape down the sides in between

Note: First two paragraphs of the instructions are from Jessica at Su Good Sweets.


  1. Remember that time I force fed you fried won tons filled with nutella and topped with powdered sugar? I am totally going to make those with this "nutella". So yummy!

  2. I've never really leaped with enthusiasm onto the Nutella bandwagon, full of cheering masses waving flags of praise over the stuff. I've tried it, for certain. I even thought it was pretty good and let's not forget that I made a Pound Cake for crying out loud, that was LOADED with the stuff and immediately swooned over it. But that was cake. And I'm a little koo-koo over cake in general.

    But what's NOT to love about hazelnuts and chocolate? I really should try this recipe out. Possibly it's Nutella's added "ick" factor, the overly sweetened aspect of it that sort of makes my teeth ache, but if I try out, like you did, making it under a controlled situation, I may find something to wave my own Nutella flag over.

    And if not, I can always make another pound cake. :-)

  3. Jack, oh my god those were so good. I think that conversation went something like -

    "Jack: Oh my god these are so good. Lisa, try one.

    Lisa: (hiding in her room trying to ignore the delicious frying chocolate) No way that's like a heart attack in every bite.

    Jack: (drags me out of my room and puts a hot fried wonton in my hand)

    Lisa: (caves and happily consumes 4 wontons and another spoonful of warm nutella then goes to bed to avoid eating a 5th)"

    hahaha all at 11pm. which reminds me remember the gnocchi you made with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter sauce or something like that?

    Kate - Nutella poundcake!? Omg if you make that with this you have to tell me how it comes out! That sounds like dangerous thing for me to make ;)

  4. Lets not be discounting the value of a good hydrogenated oil...

    you need to get over your little fear of such things.

  5. Made this as a stocking stuffer for my fiancée today. Incredibly addicting! I found it difficult to keep my own fingers out of it while packing the jar. Fortunately I managed, and he will no doubt fall in love with your recipe.

    Cheers and thanks!



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