If you’ve been to Brussels, you know all about the Belgian obsession with chocolate hazelnut spread, most commonly known by the brand name “Nutella.” In the US, most markets will stock just a few jars of Nutella somewhere near the rows and rows of peanut butter jars. In Belgium, this trend is reversed. Here’s an example:
I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that my travel companions and I developed something of a chocolate hazelnut “habit” while in Belgium. It’s delicious, and pairs wonderfully with the ubiquitous Belgian Waffle (next post!). Unfortunately, it’s made with palm oil, the production of which is responsible for a LOT of deforestation and destruction of orangutan habitat. Don’t worry… Almost-Nutella is entirely palm oil free. Here’s a simple recipe for you to try!
Ingredients (makes about 2 cups)
1 cup raw, shelled hazelnuts
12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips
1 oz dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1) Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan constantly.
Step 2) Remove brown skins from hazelnuts by placing toasted nuts on an old towel. Fold the towel so that the towel is both above and below the nuts, and rub your hands vigorously on the top of the towel. The brown skins will slip off easily.
Step 3) Grind hazelnuts in a blender or food processor until smooth, like peanut butter. Add coconut oil, powdered sugar, almond extract, and salt. Blend well.
Step 4) Melt milk chocolate and dark chocolate in the microwave. Simply place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave an additional 30 seconds. Repeat as needed until chocolate is just melted, but do not overheat.
Step 5) Combine nut mixture with melted chocolate, and Voila! You are ready to enjoy a popular European indulgence. Store in a covered glass jar at room temperature for one week (as if it will be around that long!). If chocolate hazelnut spread becomes too solid to spread, just microwave it for a few seconds and give it a stir.