In a Nutshell: DIY Nutella
I figured I’ve been in Oregon around 17 months now, I should probably start learning a little more about my newest adopted state. It’s a state known for forestry and fisheries, wine and the Willamette Valley, old school video games and Nike; all great things. But can you guess what the most exciting thing I found out about Oregon is? In addition to being one of the only places in the U.S. you can find fungal truffles, Oregon (and more specifically the Willamette Valley) is one of four of the world’s major hazelnut growing regions. And, depending on whom you ask, Oregon produces between 95 and 99 percent of the hazelnuts consumed in the U.S.. California may have a lock on pistachios, but we’ve got filberts baby!
Besides throwing a few toasted hazelnuts into a white Russian, a warm mushroom salad, a sage pesto, or just snacking on them alone, what just might be the favorite way to enjoy a hazelnut? I hope you answered with the word “Nutella,” the famous spread from Italy that combines buttery hazelnuts with sweet, yet pleasantly bitter dark chocolate.
Originally created by pastry maker Pietro Ferrero as a way to stretch rationed chocolate during WWII, the first form of Nutella was called pasta gianduja, and came in a loaf. According to the Nutella website, it has always been marketed towards mothers as a quick breakfast option for picky children. Hide the taste of whole grains with delicious nutty chocolate, amirite? The stuff has been selling like hotcakes in Europe since the ‘40s, and it was first introduced in the U.S. in 1983.
Like most people, I enjoy slathering Nutella on almost anything. However, after taking a gander at the Canadian-made for U.S. consumption Nutella, I noticed that sugar is the first ingredient listed, followed by palm oil, and hazelnuts squeaking into third place. I think I’ve only eaten Nutella here in the U.S., so I have no idea what the “original” Italian stuff tastes like, but if US Tim Tams are any indication, I think we might getting scammed.
Considering my beautiful Oregon has hazelnut production perfected, I figured I could whip up some ridiculously good Nutella, ridiculously fast. Turns out, I was right.
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, peeled*
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
Check the bulk aisle at your grocery store for toasted hazelnuts. If you can only find raw, toasting them is fairly simple, and might be cheaper. Once toasted and cooled, place the hazelnuts in your food processor and blend continuously until they turn into a smooth butter, about three minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and continue blending until smooth and creamy. If stored in the refrigerator, the Notella is good 2 weeks.
*So, I may or may not have paid total attention to this recipe and didn’t peel my nuts. Guess what, it still came out great! In my opinion, peeling is up to you.
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