A good spread

The world’s obsession with Nutella is getting kind of tiresome. I get it, I guess – we’re living in a fast paced world, we’re being worked to the bone, we’re all exhausted; all we want is the chance to regress back to the once-in-a-blue-moon treat of our childhoods (seriously if you had Nutella in the cupboards all year round and not just on special occasions, you were definitely spoiled), spread on to a piece of toast. It’s sugary, for energy; it’s chocolatey, for happiness; it’s nutty so it’s basically healthy, and you can reuse the jar as a drinking glass. I get it.

I started to write all this stuff about palm oil, and why it’s bad for the environment, but frankly better informed people have written plenty of sensible, well-researched articles that are better than anything I could bash out on a personal blog. With that in mind, I’m not going to harp on much more about why I hate Nutella (and the resultant weird backslide that every meme site has done into creating videos of bleak, stodgy recipes that contain entire jars of the stuff – it’s like £3 a jar!), because hey, I’ve been doing some research of my own.

Below you’ll find a recipe for homemade Nutella, that contains just four ingredients. It keeps well, it takes literally 30 minutes to make, and you’ll get 2 jars of it for around £1 each. It has even been taste-tested by a group of 18-23 year olds, and separately a small Italian child, receiving thumbs up all round. How’s that for well researched?

I found this recipe in a beautiful book I have on French confectionery, hidden at the back with the cryptic title of ‘Hazelnut Spread.’ (Nobody is falling for that mate, it’s chocolate spread that tastes like nuts, not the other way around).

I hope you like it!

Homemade Nutella-ish

Ingredients

180g hazelnuts
270ml milk
30g runny honey
275g good quality fairtrade milk chocolate
50g good quality fairtrade dark chocolate

Equipment

A food processor with a blade attachment
You’ll also need two clean, empty jam jars – sterilise them before potting up your spread

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160. Spread the nuts on a tray and toast them for about 10 minutes until your kitchen smells incredible and the hazelnuts are a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl balanced over simmering water on the hob.
  3. Put the cooled hazelnuts into the food processor and whizz them up for 2-3 minutes – you’ll notice they go beyond the pulsed-into-crumbs stage and will start to clump together – keep going until they’re packed together, almost in a paste.
  4. Breathe the smell of the food processor in. Smells amazing doesn’t it? Do it again.
  5. Heat the milk and the honey in a pan on the hob, bringing it to the boil before pouring it over the hazelnut paste while it’s still in the pan. Give the nut-milk mixture another whizz to mix it all together.
  6. By now the chocolate should be fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat, and pour in the nut-milk mixture, stirring together until it’s completely incorporated.
  7. Pour the mixture into jars while it’s still hot, and then keep it in the fridge until it’s set (it won’t set completely, but it will be spreadable once cool, rather than runny).

Eat it with

Toasted sourdough – the best best thing

Stir it into morning porridge (addictive – you have been warned)

Dollop it on vanilla ice cream (I can’t even)

Dot it through a flapjack mix, pre baking

Hazelnut and chocolate spread, gone in 60 seconds.

This recipe is adapted from page 196 of A La Mere de Famille: Artisanal Recipes by Julien Merceron.  It’s the most beautiful book I own, full of the history of confectionery in Paris and little stories from favourite customers of the famous sweet shop of the same name. Most of the recipes are so complex and exquisite that I just like looking through it, stroking the pages softly.

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