I will not lie. This hazelnut–cocoa spread—homemade Nutella—like many other foods, requires more work to make than pulling something off a store shelf and tossing it into your shopping cart. But once you taste homemade, you can never go back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Not only does the homemade version taste better, it contains high-quality ingredients. Sugar is the first ingredient in Nutella. Palm oil, the second. Nutella also contains vanillin, an artificial flavor. At least you can rest assured that vanillin rarely comes from the anal glands of beavers these days, to the relief of vegans. Well, okay, to the relief of everyone.
Living the sheltered life that I do, a life (happily) devoid of processed food, I didn’t realize that Nutella contains palm oil. That’s in there? If you want to learn more about why palm oil has earned a deservedly horrible reputation, read this long article, “How the world got hooked on palm oil” from The Guardian.
Ferrero, the company that manufactures Nutella, posts its corporate social responsibility report online, which I imagine explains how it continues to address the palm oil problem in its supply chain. I don’t know because I speak only English and a bit of French. I could spend my precious time running the Italian-language document through ho-hum Google Translate and then read the resulting garbled English or I could spend my time making something that tastes much better than Nutella—sans (I did say a bit of French) plastic jar and large plastic lid to boot.
No one should have to work this hard to find out what corporations put into their food-like substances. Fortunately, you have a much easier strategy to avoid eating palm oil:
Avoid buying food with labels.
Food with labels usually contains dubious ingredients you would not stock in your pantry. Whole foods have no labels listing ingredients because they are ingredients.
All In the Family
My daughter MK first made hazelnut-cocoa spread for her blog, The Plastic-Free Chef, several years ago. My younger daughter Charlotte tweaked MK’s recipe a bit for this post. MK sweetened hers with powdered sugar. Charlotte used honey. Both taste amazing.
If you want a vegan version but without powdered sugar, rice syrup or barley malt syrup will work. Or likely a simple syrup for that matter. A few people on Instagram suggested sweetening this with puréed dates. I do have dates but ran out of time before my self-imposed weekly blog deadline, so I haven’t tried that. After I finish inhaling this batch—at my current rate, a few days—I’ll try making a small amount with dates.
Yields approximately 1 ¾ cups
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 tablespoons honey or to taste
- 2 to 4 tablespoons coconut oil to reach desired consistency
1. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 400°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until the skins begin to crack. Toasting brings out the flavor. Do not skip this step!
2. After the nuts have cooled enough to handle, place them in a towel. Cover them up and rub them around inside the towel to remove the skins. Don’t worry if you can’t get all of the skins off.
3. Run the nuts in a food processor until they become fairly creamy hazelnut butter.
4. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla and process until combined.
5. Slowly add the honey, a tablespoon or so at at time, and process until combined.
6. Add the coconut oil, a tablespoon or so at at time, and process. Continue until the hazelnut-cocoa spread has reached your desired consistency. Charlotte kept this batch quite thick. If you prefer it runnier, add more oil.
7. The oil will naturally separate when you store this. Stir it up before eating. Like other nut butters, if you eat this as quickly as we do, you don’t need to store it in the refrigerator. Once opened, natural nut butters will keep well at room temperature for several weeks.