Our elf Hazel is deeply wise.
Love her and she’ll quench your thirst for knowledge.
Then, she’ll bless you with a silver tongue,
for teaching others what you’ve learned.
So it’s said. But is there any truth behind the power of Elf Hazel?
What we know for sure: Hazel harnesses the strength of her namesake, the hazelnut. Like some other nuts and seeds, hazelnuts feed the brain.
A giant kilogram jar of Nutella contains 130 hazelnuts, along with a heap of skim milk and cocoa powder thrown into the mix. How can anything with so much fiber, vitamins C, B, and E, protein, folate, and calcium be anything but good?
Well, Nutella has its detractors. For one, there is a large dose of sugar – 11 grams in every spoonful.
And then, there is the whole palm oil thing. Over-farming of the rain-forest to harvest it is threatening endangered animals, like the orangutan. Our elf Hazel would be sympathetic to preserving the habitat of these lovely animals!
So what is a crazy, orangutan-loving Nutella fan to do? Here’s an idea. Why not make your own hazelnut spread. It’s easy if you have a food processor. You get to say how much sugar is enough, and use coconut oil instead of palm oil.
Vinny’s Homemade Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
Makes about 2 1/4 cups. Store in the fridge.
- 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) whole hazelnuts (AKA filberts), roasted and de-skinned
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup skim milk powder (50 grams)
- 1/4 cup (25 grams ) cocoa (preferably not dutch-processed)
- 5 drops of liquid stevia (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) chopped bittersweet chocolate chips
- If you bought the raw nuts with their skins, roast them and remove the skins. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the nuts in a 375ºF oven for 10 minutes, or until their skins begin to pop. Shake them up half way through. Watch closely. If you see smoke, remove them immediately before they burn!
- Pour the hot nuts onto an old (but clean) tea towel. Gather the corners into a bundle and rub the nuts together to flake off as much skin as possible. This is hard work. That’s why the roasted nuts are twice the price!
- While they’re warm, blend the nuts in a food processor until they go from finely ground to pasty, about 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, on low heat warm the milk, powdered milk, stevia, cocoa, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.Remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble around the edges. If you like a thinner spread, reduce the skim milk powder to just 1/3 cup.
- In a glass or stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil, stirring until smooth. Take off the heat a little before it’s completely melted, because you don’t want it to curdle.
- Add the melted chocolate to the ground nuts and process the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the warm milk mixture bit by bit, and process until the sauce is well blended. Taste, and if you like it sweeter, add a few more drops of stevia. The sugar content of the chocolate varies, which affects the quantity of stevia needed.
- Scoop the spread into a glass jar or container, cover, and store in the fridge.
Nutrition information per tablespoon (From eaTracker, by Dietitians of Canada):
- 65 Calories
- 5 g fat (no trans fat)
- 4 g carbs (including 1.1 g fiber and 2.1 g sugar)
- 2 g protein
- 17 mg sodium (salt), 128 mg potassium, 50 mg calcium, 21.3 RAE Vit A, 8.1 DFE folate, 1.1 mg vitamin E
If you want to compare nutrients of Vinnie’s recipe with the commercial Nutella by Ferrero, here’s their nutrition label. Mine (sweetened with stevia) has 2 grams sugar in a tablespoon, compared with 11 grams in the commercial Nutella.