Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why didn't anyone tell me?

Seriously? Because I'm a leeeeeeeetle upset with all of you who knew. About Nutella.

Today is terrible Tuesday, the hardest, longest day of the week. The day where the Music Man doesn't get home until the kiddos are in bed, and one of the two days I can't get to the gym at all.

The children requsted PB&J sandwiches for lunch. While gathering supplies, I discovered that we were totally out of peanut butter. Completely. I had almonds, walnuts, and pecans on hard, but didn't feel like making nut butter, and that's when I saw it. WAAAAAAAY in the back of the pantry, an unopened jar of Nutella. I asked the kids if they wanted chocolate sandwiches for lunch, and of course they said "yes". Hallelujah.

The kids (and *cough* me) each had two Nutella sandwiches for lunch, along with some food that had a modicum of nutritional value. Since I cannot, in good conscience, feed my children stuff that has hydrogenated oils, I found a recipe to make it at home.

I'll change out the granulated sugar for sucanat with honey or agave nectar, but here's the recipe from Su Good Sweets:

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (caramel base)

Caramel instructions from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich

Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I'm using dark chocolate cocoa powder)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Preparation: Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a 3- to 4-cup saucepan. Do not stir again during the cooking. Cover and bring sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat. Uncover and wipe down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush or a wad of paper towel dipped in water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Uncover and cook until the syrup turns a pale amber. Test by spooning a drop or two of the syrup onto a white saucer. Swirl the pan gently, continuing to cook and test the color until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color.

Pour the caramel immediately onto the lined baking sheet. Tilt sheet to spread caramel as thinly as possible. Let harden completely, about 15 minutes.
Toast the nuts: Meanwhile, place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast in the oven 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.
To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins have come off, but don’t worry if some remain.

Make the nut butter: When the caramel is completely cool, break it into pieces and pulverize in a food processor. Try to get the caramel as fine as possible at this stage (it won’t get finer once you add the nuts).
Add the nuts and process until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Be patient; the nuts will go from a fine meal, to forming a ball around the blade, to nut butter. Add the cocoa, vanilla and salt and process until smooth.

Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.

Please use whole raw nuts, and toast them yourself to intensify the flavor. Pre-toasted or pre-chopped nuts are often spoiled.

To further intensify the nut flavor, use unrefined nut oil (for version 1), which is tan in color. Refined nut oils have the color and flavor removed. Peanut oil is especially cheap in Chinese supermarkets. I bought 20 ounces for $2.38! There’s a lesson: if you’re looking for a “gourmet” ingredient, try an ethnic market.

To make any standard nut butter, use this procedure but omit the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and extra oil. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp granulated sugar. Try making your own cashew butter: you may never go back to peanut butter again!


Amy said...

How could you not know about Nutella?? Wasn't that a campaign, or was that before your time? Nutella is quite tasty, and I enjoy it myself. The cook your own recipe sounds good, but the whole roasting the nuts, then taking the skins off...yeah, too time consuming. Ha!

FluteLoop said...

I just found out about Nutella myself somewhere in the last year. My husband was shocked to find out that I had never heard of it. We don't buy it often because my husband and I can seriously sit down with spoons and eat an entire jar!

ElleBee said...

Nutella.Evil.Evil.Stuff. So evil, in fact, that, given the opportunity, I would eat the whole daggone jar BY MYSELF.

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Nutella is one of my all-time favorite things to eat! When we lived overseas and went on a ski trip, they would set out sandwich making supplies each morning so we could pack a lunch to eat on the slopes. There was peanut butter and Nutella. I remember thinking, "You're kidding me? I can have a chocolate peanut butter sandwich and consider it lunch!?!? Have I died and gone to heaven?!"

As much as I'd love to, I don't dare keep it in the house. I would eat it constantly.