For some people, Nutella-a smooth chocolate-hazelnut spread found in the peanut butter aisle in most supermarkets - is a nostalgic childhood treat. But I didn’t taste it until college, when a friend who’d been living in Europe introduced me to it, so I may always think of it as a more sophisticated sweet. The stuff from the jar is pretty darn good, although the fabulous pastry chef Gale Gand taught me how to make it from scratch, and that’s now my favorite version. You can really taste the hazelnuts and feel some of their texture. I’ve been known to eat it with a spoon, as anyone else who’s honest will admit to doing.
Note: No longer can you consider yourself safe from temptation just by mustering the wherewithal to pass the Nutella aisle at the grocery store. With this made-from-scratch recipe, temptation lurks in your very own pantry every second of the day. Should you succumb to the craving and find yourself standing at the counter, spoon in hand, not quite certain how to stop spooning it up, author Christie Matheson has a novel way to put the rest of it to use: the most lust-inducing frosting that cake has ever known. Just grab your stand mixer and beat 1/2 cup of homemade Nutella, 3 tablespoons room-temperature butter, and 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until creamy. Jack up the speed to medium-high and slowly, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons heavy cream, beating just until smooth and fluffy and irresistible. Then slather it all over the cake you baked for your new neighbors and get it out of the house as soon as humanly possible.
1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as canola
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt, more or less depending upon your preference
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’ve browned a little and the skins are blistered a little. Wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much loose skin as possible. (Some skin will cling to the nuts when you’re done. It’s okay—not to mention inevitable.) Let cool completely.
3. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over gently simmering water or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.
4. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible–or as smooth as you like. Add the melted chocolate, blend well, and then strain the mixture to remove any chunks of hazelnut that remain. The resulting homemade Nutella will be thin and somewhat runny and maybe even a little warm but it will thicken as it cools. Scrape your homemade nutella into a jar or other resealable container and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the container after snitching several spoonfuls. The nutella will keep on the counter for up to 2 weeks.