Happy Election Day. I have to admit, it’s been hard to post lately with my new “healthy lifestyle” changes. I mean, who wants to hear about what vegetables and healthy dishes I’m eating? Or what kind of shake I’m making? Pffffft. Yeah, no one. Ooh! Let’s have some pineapple in the Greek yogurt today! Excitement! So in an attempt to distract you from countless Facebook posts about voting, I decided I would go a little nuts. Literally. I’ve been experimenting with some store-bought nut butters. They add protein and valuable trace nutrients to my snacks. It made me recall my first productions with my food processor. I believe I dubbed those creations “Nut Spread” and I suppose “Nut Butter” isn’t much better. Let’s discuss, shall we?
There was a time when I hated Nutella. I know. You think I’m batsh*t crazy, but it’s the truth. I couldn’t stand it. I suppose it’s because I was raised on dark chocolate and still prefer it today. We won’t discuss my indiscretion at last weekend’s wedding where I shoved “Fun Size” Baby Ruth bars in my face while imitating Sloth from The Goonies. No. That milk chocolate was a huge mistake. I don’t even remember the first time I tried Nutella but I remember despising it. And then I went to Tahiti and they had it available to spread on croissants. One smear was all it took, but I’m totally blaming that on the croissants.
Now I have been a big natural peanut butter and “nut spread” fan for years. After looking at the ingredients in my beloved childhood Peter Pan as an adult and not being able to pronounce half of them, I soon determined that Smucker’s Natural (which consists of peanuts and salt) was the way to go. I don’t care if the oil separates, at least I know what the heck is going in my face. I don’t even want to think about what goes in Nutella. All I know is that when I’m a cranky b*tch on wheels (and we don’t need to discuss the moon phases and why), I need more than just a little red wine as a treat. So I decided to make my own disgustingly rich, perfectly decadent homemade Nutella that I will have to palm off on my coworkers because 1) it’s too delicious not to share and they like treats and 2) I haven’t worked this hard to contain myself just to blow it all on one clandestine evening. Or ten clandestine evenings. I did enough of that in college and in Tahiti. So I’m eating some dry salad right now just to make up for this unforgettable chocolate deviance. So please save your arteries, grab your bananas (get your minds out of the gutter, people), and hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife, and hide yo’ husbands because you’re gonna want this all to yourself:
Lady Sensory’s I Hate Myself for Loving You Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
3 cups blanched hazelnuts or filberts
3 tbsp of walnut oil (I used this and mind you, my opinions are my own on all products mentioned here)
5-6 oz of the best bittersweet chocolate you can get your hands on. I used 70% cacao Scharffen Berger bar and a very small amount of 60% Ghirardelli chips because that is what I had in the house. Mind you, I like my chocolate very dark and very rich. Again people, get your minds out of the gutter.
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt for the nuts (I’ve been into the pink Himalayan variety)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Literally, 3-4 drops of pure almond extract (do NOT overdo this or it will mess everything up)
Line a cookie sheet with foil and place nuts in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven at 325 degrees Farenheit for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet. Place chocolate bits in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring, until smooth. Add the 3 tbsp of walnut oil, stir well and let sit while you grind your nuts. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until grainy, but not a full paste. Add the melted chocolate/walnut oil mixture, pulse and then switch to the on position to puree. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla & drops of almond extract until well blended. Pour into glass jars or airtight bowls and refrigerate. This made about three cups. Is it more textured than store-bought Nutella? You bet. You can’t really get away from that slightly grainy texture with homemade nut butters, but it’s still spreadable and not chewy. Is it more delicious? To me, yes, because I prefer dark chocolate and less processed foods but feel free to go with semisweet or milk if that is your preference. What I know for sure is (and yes, that’s an Oprah-ism) at least you know it’s made from real nuts, real oils, and quality chocolate. What more can you ask for than “real” in a treat candidate?