I dont take well to failure (real or perceived) and its been a week or so of failure on some level. And while i dont back down and hide, i do tend to try to turn things around. When i used to do taxes, this amounted to walking into my boss' office and asking for the easiest return they had. because when failure is all around me, i just want something that works.
This is the culinary equivalent of that easy tax return.
The internet has been buzzing about homemade nutella. The LA Times published their recipe about two years ago but recently, it seems that everyone is all aflutter about it... It seemed to hit a fever pitch somewhere around the holidays and then slowed a bit for some of January and then bam, right back just in time for World Nutella Day - a week and a half or so ago...
So when the universe seemed intent on telling me that i was a failure, i thought, what could be better than homemade nutella? it appears easy enough and, hello, you get nutella in the end. WIN-WIN.
When setting out to choose a recipe, i read a whole bunch. some used cocoa powder, some melted chocolate. some hazelnut oil, some vegetable oil, some no oil. some milk, some powdered milk. I poured through countless versions of this recipe until i came up with a game plan... hazelnuts, cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, & vanilla. Milk & vegetable oil on standby incase i needed them.
it was all going fine, too, right up until i was nearing the end... i felt that i needed a bit more creaminess so i thought, ok self, lets go for a tablespoon of milk...and thats where the unraveling began...
the chocolate? she seized.
if you've never experienced seized chocolate, well, its not pretty... the chocolate gets grainy and unusable. now, i'm still not totally sure why this happened as many bloggers before me had used milk without reporting adverse effects and the fats present from the liquified hazelnuts should have prevented the moisture from the milk (which also had fat in it!) from creating such a disaster, but there it was, in the food processor - a big mess.
but, again, i dont back down so easily so i was all 'its ok - thats what the vegetable oil is for!'
and then bad went to worse...
because while i did manage to make the mixture a bit smoother (though not as creamy & smooth as it should have been) my next taste was pretty much disgust.
my nutella tasted more like wesson oil than it did like anything else.
and thats when i finally gave up. for that night, at least...
The next night, i was hell-bent determined to succeed. So i stopped and picked up another $8.50 worth of hazelnuts and some powdered milk (ha! i'll show that chocolate!) and while i was there, grabbed some hazelnut oil because i did not want Wessonutella again. Hazelnut oil is not cheap, but have you heard the saying 'throw money at the problem'? well, thats what i was doing. I figured i could pay my way into success and frankly, I was ok with that...
(It turns out that Jordan, being the husband extraordinare that he is - not to mention a fan of all things nutella, especially since our honeymoon in paris - also stopped at our beloved fairway for more hazelnuts and powdered milk... he's good like that. no, you cant have him... and yes, that means we have more ingredients for MORE nutella!)
Thankfully, things went much, much better this time. I'd managed to get my cocoa & sugar proportions sorted out the night before, so this time was a cinch... of course, my blood pressure was most likely about 345/150 the whole time, waiting for something to go wrong, but FINALLY, FINALLY - SUCCESS.
So next time you need a win? This is your answer.
courtesy of the LA Times, modifications by me
2 cups raw hazelnuts (if you can find pre-peeled ones, get them. If not, i'll give you instructions on how to peel them below)
1/3 c cocoa powder
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp powdered milk
~1/2 tsp vanilla
~2 tbsp hazelnut oil
Preheat oven to 375°
Spread hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and place in oven to toast for ~ 8 minutes. They will be fragrant and, if pre-peeled, 'shiny' when they are ready.
If your nuts are not pre-peeled:
Place warm nuts (be careful) in a clean dishtowel and rub, rub, rub. The skins will rub off of the hazelnuts and into the towel. You may find that you want to shake the towel out a few times and re-rub the hazelnuts. You want to get as much skin off as you possibly can.
Once your nuts are peeled (or, right after they come out of the oven if they were pre-peeled) throw them into a food processor fitted with the basic, all purpose blade.
Pulse a few times until the nuts start to break down, then turn the processor on and let it whirl for about 5 - 6 minutes. During that time, you will want to pause it and open it up and scrape down the sides, but you wont have to do this much after the first couple of minutes...
during those 5 - 6 minutes, your hazelnuts will first turn to a meal, then to a dust, then to a peanut butter-like substance, then will congeal and then, finally, into something that can only be described as really runny peanut butter consistency.
Once that has happened, add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar and powdered milk in and turn the food processor back on. You'll end up letting it run another minute or so, but you will have to scrape it down at least once during that time as the cocoa and powdered sugar will have, inevitably, gone everywhere...
This is now the point where you have some decisions to make. Taste the chocolaty-hazelnutty goodness and figure out how its working for you. Some people will add a bit more sugar or a bit more cocoa. some will think this consistency is good. some will think they want it smoother or creamier...
At this point, i turned the food processor back on and used the little streaming hole to add first ~ 1/4 tsp of vanilla and ~ 1/2 tbsp of hazelnut oil. then another 1/2 tbsp hazelnut oil. then i tried it again and basically added those same ingredients - another 1/4 tsp vanilla and probably about another 1 tbsp of hazelnut oil until i got a taste and a consistency that worked for me. note: its going to thicken in the fridge, so at this point, you will want it to be a bit looser than you'll actually want the final product to be...
Once you've got something you like, find your best adorable mason jars (or other resealable, airtight container) and fill them up. I found that i got about 2 small mason jars worth of nutella out of mine.
Use as you would regular nutella.
Notes from me & the internet:
- Homemade nutella is more expensive (by a lot) than jarred nutella. This is much more for fun & for avoidance of weird ingredients than it is for saving $.
- The internet claims this will last anywhere from a week to a month in your fridge. I've only had it for a day, so i dont know.
- The internet also tells me that i should let the nutella warm a bit before spreading. good luck with that.
- My brain tells me that, if i owned coconut extract, i would have used that instead of vanilla. I've always thought nutella tasted vaguely coconutty and i think it would be good.
- Just as i was writing that sentence, my brain thought that maybe a half-cup of macadamia nuts in place of one of the half-cups of hazelnuts would make this tropically delicious.
- My brain also tells me that i think, if you were to leave out the powdered milk, you wouldnt need much oil. In this case, you could save yourself $10 and just use wesson, cause you'd probably only use a tsp to a tbsp or so of it and it probably wouldnt affect the flavor much.