A few weeks ago, we made our very own chocolate hazelnut spread. Luckily, Lent has arrived, or we’d still be hovering over the jar with our spoons out…but I’m sure we’ll be ready to dig back in once these forty days are up.
All the chocolate-hazelnut recipes posted across the blogosphere in honor of Nutella Day last month got me thinking about attempting to make my own again. A well-timed article in La Cucina Italiana magazine provided the impetus and guidance I needed to get started. For my first batch, I followed the recipe exactly as written.
The recipe had only 5 ingredients, took less than half an hour to make, and left me wondering what in the world had gone wrong with my last attempt.
The La Cucina Italiana recipe called for 8 ounces of milk chocolate to 5 ounces of toasted hazelnuts and Chef Karen DeMasco’s special touch, coarse Demerara or turbinado sugar (for a bit of crunch). It comes out to 29.5% hazelnuts. (If you’ve followed my Nutella study, that’s a significantly higher proportion of hazelnuts than contained in either the Italian or American versions of Nutella.)
Although it was an excellent variation on the chocolate-hazelnut-spread theme (it tasted almost exactly like the filling of one of my favorite candies), we prefer our gianduia like we prefer our chocolate: dark.
For round two, we created three different adaptations, one with 3 ounces of dark chocolate added to the the original recipe, one with 4 ounces each dark and milk chocolate, and one with all dark chocolate (plus a little extra oil to replace the missing fat). While all three were good, the clear winner was the half-and-half version. The dark chocolate gave it just the extra boost it needed to balance out the hazelnuts, and the milk chocolate kept it creamy and more spreadable than the other two.
makes about 1½ cups
4 oz good quality milk chocolate*
4 oz good quality dark chocolate (54%)*
8 oz raw hazelnuts
2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp dark brown sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup grapeseed oil
*For the chocolate, we used Whole Foods’ organic, fair trade.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Spread hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until fragrant and just beginning to brown. The skins should also begin to visibly loosen.
Meanwhile, break chocolate into pieces and combine in the bowl of a food processor with all remaining ingredients, except the grapeseed oil.
Remove nuts from oven and allow to cool slightly. Using a tea towel, rub hazelnuts a handful at a time to remove the bitter skins. (It’s okay if they don’t all come off.)
Add warm hazelnuts to bowl of food processor.
Puree. With the processor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify. Continue blending until mixture is smooth. (The spread will not become perfectly smooth but will retain small flecks of hazelnuts and sugar for a slight crunch.)
Transfer to an airtight container and allow to thicken (at room temperature for about 2 days, or in the refrigerator for 1 hour.)
Tip: For faster thickening, remove spread from refrigerator after 20-30 minutes. Stir. Let rest for 2 minutes. Stir again.
Spread keeps at room temperature for up to three months. To soften slightly for spreading, microwave for 5-10 seconds.