The ambition of making my own Nutella spread was running through my head ever since I brought a little jar of Le Grenier à Pain’s own version from Paris. While waiting in line at the boulangerie, I was eying the rows of homemade jars they sold. All the jam varieties seemed delectable but when I saw their chocolate-hazelnut spread, I knew I had to try it. Nutella is part of my daily routine: every day for breakfast, I slather half of a toasted banana bread slice with peanut butter and the other half with the very popular chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Back home I abandoned Nutella for a couple of weeks while I enjoyed its homemade Parisian counterpart. It was as smooth and velvety as the original, pretty much the same color, but the nutty taste was a lot more intense, something I liked very much.
When I was reminded that World Nutella Day was to be celebrated on February 5th, I knew I would try and make my own. I love this celebration and I vote for it to become an official worldwide holiday! What a perfect excuse for everyone to enjoy the happy marriage of chocolate and hazelnuts together?
I found making homemade Nutella was easy: the step that gave me the most work was to skin the hazelnuts. It’s not hard but it does take a bit of time. My home food processor did not allow me to reach Nutella’s perfectly smooth texture but the miniature hazelnut fragments throughout kindly remind me that this isn’t just chocolate, oh no, it’s something elevated, better!
I decided to make a cake to have something to spread my freshly made tartinade on and I thought choosing an Italian recipe would be fitting. My (and the world’s) Italian cooking bible, The Silver Spoon, provided me with a deliciously moist and nutty Torta di Nocciole, or Hazelnut Cake. The cake contains a lot of ground hazelnuts, which echoes the chocolate spread as well as you can imagine, and some grated lemon rind, which bright taste gets mellowed by the hazelnuts and gently cuts through the rich taste of chocolate. It was my perfect marriage, an ode to the beloved chocolate and hazelnut spread that makes so many people happy around the world.
Happy Nutella Day to everyone! How will you celebrate?
Homemade Dairy-Free Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
I used my favorite cocoa powder, Valrhona’s, and I love the deep dark chocolate color and taste it gave to the spread.
1 ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1/3 cup top quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2/3 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons organic hazelnut oil (or grapeseed oil or coconut oil)
Place toasted and skinned nuts in a food processor. Process until the nuts turn into a smooth paste: you may need to scrape the bowl a few times so all the nuts get ground up evenly. Be patient, this will take a couple of minutes.
Left: Hazelnuts after 1 minute processing; Right: Hazelnuts after a little more than 2 minutes processing.
When the nuts have been processed into a smooth consistency (like a spreadable butter), add the powdered sugar, cocoa and sea salt. Process again until well blended. The mixture will be crumbly at this point.
Left: After adding cocoa and sugar and pulsing a couple of times; Right: Hazelnuts, cocoa and sugar, well incorporated (you can see the oil from the nuts shine through)
Add the oil and process once more. Your homemade Nutella should now have a beautiful spreadable consistency.
If you don’t use up (or eat) all your spread in one recipe (or seating), store it in an airtight container. It’s best to put it in the fridge to make sure it’ll keep well without going rancid, but remember to take it out a while before eating so it softens up. If you plan on eating it in a few days, you can store it at room temperature.
Torta di Nocciole / Hazelnut Cake
Because I only had an 8-inch cake pan, I had extra batter so I used individual ramekins to cook the rest. I think it turned out even more beautiful in small portions! It’s a perfect coffee cake or it becomes a special occasion dessert when you spread it with your own chocolate-hazelnut spread.
I was a bit weary to pour all the ingredients in (wet and dry) at the same time in the flour, as indicated in the recipe, but the cake turned out great. I still recommend to lightly beat the eggs before adding them to the flour.
1 cup butter, or dairy free buttery spread, melted, plus extra for greasing
1¾ self-raising cake flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup superfine sugar
1¾ cups toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
Grated rind of 1 lemon
¼ cup whole milk (3.25% fat content), or almond milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a shallow 9-inch cake pan (or small individual ramekins) with melted butter or dairy free spread, and lightly dust with flour, shaking out the excess. Sift the flour into a mound in a big bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs, sugar, hazelnuts, melted butter or dairy free spread, lemon rind and whole milk or almond milk, and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes (the ramekins will take between 20-25 minutes). The cake is ready when it’s golden and puffed up (it’ll deflate to an almost perfect flat shape as it cools down). Remove the cake from the oven, let stand for 15 minutes then turn out. Spread with Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread if desired and enjoy.
How to Toast and Skin Hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the shelled hazelnuts on a heavy baking sheet. Toast in the oven until they are fragrant and brown on the outside but pale golden on the inside. Stir the hazelnuts around every 3 minutes or so to make sure they brown evenly. This will also tip you when they’re ready as you’ll notice the skins will get looser and looser. All in all it would take you about 10 minutes. Watch closely to make sure you won’t burn your precious nuts!
Let cool the nuts completely. To remove the skins, rub a handful of nuts in a kitchen towel or between your hands. The skins should fall right off. Some nuts gave me a bit more trouble and I had to toast them a bit more to skin them completely. Note that it’s ok if small specks of skin remain on the hazelnuts, your recipe will be just as delicious!