I am suspect of food in jars—with one big exception: peanut butter. The very idea of messing around with the pure, unadulterated taste of roasted nuts of any kind is almost sacrilegious to me.
So that’s my lame excuse for sneering at the ubiquitous jar of Nutella on grocer’s shelves for too many decades to mention. It’s touting itself as a peanut butter substitute, albeit with hazelnuts. And well, there is NO substitute for peanut butter in my mind.
But just this year–influenced by all the Nutella Pinterest Boards no doubt–I buckled and bought the darned jar. I brought it home, twisted off the lid, dipped a big spoon into the creamy darkness, and plunged it into my mouth. Then I gagged and ran for WATER.
I am treading on hallowed ground for those of you who LOVE Nutella. Probably a billion or so folks. Mea culpa! Mea culpa!
But to my palate, Nutella tastes like overly sweet, poor quality chocolate, with way too much vanilla and the lingering taste of stale powdered milk. I can barely taste the hazelnuts. As in, NOT AT ALL. I have no idea what to do with this—okay I’ll just say it– nasty jar of strangely plastic goop.
But this unfortunate experience makes me want to make Nutella myself. Immediately. As an antidote or an act of contrition for not trusting my intuition in the first place.
(PAUSE) Hold on, I’m running to Whole Foods to grab some hazelnuts.
Okay, I’m back and the hazelnuts are toasting in the oven. In the meanwhile, I’m cruising the web looking for inspiration.
Well, that was fun! An exhilarating, two-hour tour of the web revealed FIVE basic options for making homemade Nutella. Every option begins with hazelnut butter, as you can see:
- Hazelnut butter with unsweetened cocoa.
- Hazelnut butter with melted bar chocolate.
- Hazelnut butter with melted bar chocolate and unsweetened cocoa.
- Hazelnut butter with chocolate ganache.
- Hazelnut butter with chocolate ganache and unsweetened cocoa.
I decided to work on two extremes: hazelnut butter with cocoa (#1) and hazelnut butter with chocolate ganache (#4).
The key to getting this spread right turns out to be the difficult balance between the two competing (yet complementary) flavors. Bittersweet chocolate rather easily overpowers toasted hazelnuts and thus needs to be held in check.
Many recipes on the web call for too much bittersweet chocolate in ratio to hazelnuts. For my palate, I wanted the first taste to be hazelnuts with a long, slow finish of chocolate. That’s what I aimed for and hopefully achieved. You will be the judge.
Which Homemade Nutella do I like best? Honestly, I can’t choose. I’m tasting back and forth between the jars as I write this. I love the intensity of Hazelnut Butter & Cocoa Spread. And I love the silky richness of Hazelnut Butter & Chocolate Ganache Spread. It’s hopeless. I want them both in the fridge at all times.
Anyone want a barely used jar of store bought Nutella?