[Just look at that icy, smooth surface. . . dig in!]
The Nutty Part:
Ever since I created that Walnut-Cacao Nib Butter a while back, I’ve gone all-out nutty. Seems a day cannot go by without my consuming some form of nut butter. I had already been enjoying nuts on this ACD (one of the few snack-like treats you can have), but now I’m totally over the top for nut butters. From the original, walnut-cacao nib:
to almond with coconut butter (a great way to ensure your almond butter is nice and firm for spreading):
to Walnut-Carob Chip:
to cashew-cinnamon and almond-hempseed–I’ve been enjoying them all. With my trusty food processor and about 10 minutes of time, I’m able to enjoy any number of creative, artisanal nut butters from any combination of nuts to produce a plethora of different flavors and textures.
Oh, and don’t forget seed butters, either, like this crunchy sunflower seed butter I used in my sunbutter chocolate cups:
Well, it’s finally happened: I went too far (I know–and you thought that painting my high school in the dead of night was “too far.” See, everything is relative!).
But mostly, a chocoholic.
When I first went on the ACD some ten years ago, I cut out certain foods from my life because they were just too, too bad for me. As much as I wanted to devour a Wunderbar (one of my all-time favorites) on a daily basis, I knew it would be disastrous if I did. So, too, with milk chocolate, Caramilk, Icy Squares, and any number of other “chocolate” bars (not to mention that they contain milk products, something I no longer consume).
When I had my sweets relapse in December 2008, it didn’t take long for me to fall back into old habits–scarfing down entire (family-sized) chocolate bars in one sitting, eating sugar and wheat-laden baked goods, or (I would be embarrassed to admit this if I hadn’t already confessed to the school-painting thing), scooping canned frosting straight from the can and into my waiting maw (and just look at that list of ingredients–no wonder I got sick!).
But the one thing I never ate again was Nutella. I’m not sure if it’s because with its hydrogenated palm oil, powdered milk, and sugar, sugar, sugar, I somehow felt that was a step too far; or maybe it was the incredibly inflated price tag; or, could be, it was merely my own lassitude (brought on by excess sugar consumption, no doubt), as they don’t carry it at my local health-food store. Whatever the reason, I ended up getting back on the ACD wagon last March and hadn’t experienced Nutella again. But I never forgot about that dreamy, creamy, satiny smooth and brilliantly chocolately spread.
[Look at how spreadable!]
I’ve attempted a few versions of my own homemade nutella in the past, but they always turned out gritty, or chalky, or too thick for what I remembered: a perfectly silky, pillowy, melty spread with a hint of chocolate and mostly hazelnut aroma. Nothing I made seemed to approximate that enchanting spread of my memory.
Yes, dear readers, it took being on the ACD for 15 months for me to create a chocolate-hazelnut spread worthy of anyone’s taste buds. And today, I am going to share it with you!
Be warned: you do not want to make too much of this at one time. You will taste it, and you will fall in love. It will call to you from the refrigerator while you fiddle with your stir-fry for dinner; it will entice you while you recline on the couch to watch your soap opera; it will torment you as you slog through another session on the treadmill; it will whisper to you while you lie in bed and think about what to write in tomorrow’s blog post. In short, you will be addicted, in short order.
I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but with homemade nutella, simpler is definitely better. Last week, spying a jar of pure hazelnut butter on sale at 50% off, I imagined I’d throw together yet another nut-butter concoction. On the heels of my previous nut-butter extravaganzas, I assumed it would turn out as a simple chocolate-scented hazelnut butter, not a reproduction of Nutella. But the results were revelatory!
Now, I’m addicted to this hazelnut-chocolate butter as well. I can’t get enough of it. I suppose it’s better than canned frosting, but even too much of a good thing can be too much. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Professor Part:
As the only full-time faculty member in my department who teaches through the entire summer, I end up with a fairly heavy course load each May through August. While other professors teach what are called “compressed” courses (6 hours per week for 7 weeks), my students have me for an entire 14-week semester (no doubt they’re thrilled).
What this means is that crunch time for me is now. Rather than continue to do too many things inefficiently, I’ve decided to ease off the blog a little bit until I catch up on my mega-marking. So if you see less frequent posting from me over the next 2-3 weeks, please be patient! I’ll be back soon.
In the meantime, you can still find me at the DDD Fan Page or on twitter. 🙂 I’m also still seeking recipe testers for my two upcoming ebooks. All recipes are ACD-friendly (Phases I and II). If you’re on a restricted diet or are willing to try out gluten free, stevia (and/or yacon and/or vegetable glycerin)-sweetened recipes, let me know. I’ll take names up until Monday, June 28th and will send out an email to the participants then. Just email me at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com.
Today’s (totally optional, please-don’t-feel-you-have-to-answer, but please-DO- still-leave-a-comment-even-if-you-don’t-answer) question:
Do you have a favorite nut butter? If so, what is it? (And I’d love to hear about any of your own homemade creations as well!).
Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (“Notella”)
Suitable for ACD Stage 3 and Beyond
The trick to the extra-smooth texture here is using prepared hazelnut butter, which I found on sale. Howver, you can make your own: after mixing up smooth hazelnut butter in a food processor, transfer the mixture to a blender and (in very small batches), blend until perfectly smooth and almost liquid.
1 cup ( 240 ml) natural hazelnut butter, very smooth (the only ingredient should be toasted hazelnuts)
1/4 cup (60 ml) unflavored (refined) coconut oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp (40 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
30-50 drops vanilla or plain stevia liquid, to your taste (see IMPORTANT NOTE, below)
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined and very smooth (it will be almost liquid and very pourable), scraping down sides a few times as you go. Pour the mixture into a clean jar and refrigerate at least 3 hours, until firm. Scoop and spread on whatever strikes your fancy. This would make a great truffle filling or tart filling as well. Will keep, refrigerated (I’m only guessing here, mine is always gone in a fraction of that time) up to 3 weeks.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the combination of chocolate + stevia can seem far too bitter for some palates. I’ve found that trying to sweeten cocoa or unsweetened chocolate to the degree that it tastes like “regular” chocolate is often the problem; too much stevia along with chocolate creates a weird, bitter, aftertaste. Because of this fact and since hazelnuts are slightly sweet on their own, I prefer to use a little less stevia and aim for a bittersweet flavor (sort of like 70% chocolate bars). It’s still sweet enough to really enjoy it, and it doesn’t have that strange aftertaste. Pure chocolate goodness at its best!
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