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Chocolate hazelnut spread

You might have noticed that I often make recipes that feature hazelnuts, that’s because I love them! When I was younger, I lived in a health conscious house and I didn’t have access to Nutella, hardly ever. And I dreamed of eating it, I thought it was the “be all end all” of breakfast food and dessert. And as is the case for many things in life, as I grew older and became independent and mature enough to get my own Nutella, all of a sudden, I didn’t crave the sweet stuff anymore. That’s because I became health conscious myself and because foods with such high sugar content do not make me feel good.  It doesn’t change the fact that I love hazelnuts and most desserts that contain them gain my appreciation. I also would almost always choose hazelnut gelato (Italian ice cream) if in an Italian ice cream shop.

So to get back to this spread, it’s extremely simple and delicious and it’s very healthy at the same time. If you are a Nutella lover and you eat Nutella on a regular basis, I don’t suggest you make this spread as a replacement because it really isn’t as sweet and you may still crave the commercial dessert spread. If however, you enjoy nut butters, hazelnuts, and you stick to mostly natural sugars that are in their natural state (in fruit), you will love this versatile spread. I love it the most on warmed thin rice cakes topped with fresh banana slices or even caramelized banana. I use it to top an oatmeal bowl or even a smoothie bowl. You can even make a healthy shake or smoothie using this hazelnut spread.

I use my Vitamix to make the spread and I do recommend a high speed blender. I know that you can make nut butter in a regular food processor, it just takes a lot longer.  I’m not sure however, that the dates will completely dissolve with a regular food processor, therefore you might be left with some little date chunks, which would not necessarily be bad either.

Ingredients  

  • 250 g hazelnuts
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 6 pitted Deglet Noor dates (more if you want a sweeter spread)
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder (I used Camino Dutch Processed)

Preparation

  • Toast the hazelnuts by putting them on a baking tray and toasting them in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. Watch them closely to make sure they do not burn. When you pull them out of the oven, their skin should be dark and pulling apart. Let them cool a few minutes so they are OK to handle and take a clean kitchen towel, put the hazelnuts in the middle, close the towel and rub the nuts in the towel. This can be messy so you might want to do this step over the sink. After you’ve rubbed them well, place the towel on the counter and open up gently to remove the hazelnuts which should be skinned. Some of them might still have a little skin, you can try and remove with your hands or you can redo the towel process to get them completely skinless. Discard the skins. We remove these to remove the bitterness. It does make a difference, I can attest to this because I have tried to make recipes with hazelnuts that still had their skin and they were a little bitter.
  • Place the hazelnuts in a high speed blender with the salt and process until you obtain a smooth paste. In order to do this, depending on the food processor or blender you are using, it can take anywhere from 3 minutes (Vitamix) to 20 minutes.
  • You may have to stop the process often and mix with a spoon to distribute the mixture well.
  • Once you have a “smoothish” paste or butter, add the dates and cocoa powder and process some more. You will want to do this until it is completely smooth.
  • Taste and add more dates if you prefer a sweeter spread.

     

  • Put into a glass container and keep in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.

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