A few weeks ago, my amazing sister-in-law suggested that we tried to make our own version of nutella. She really loves animals and has a special spot for primates: nutella and the palm oil it contains was a no-go for her. In case you are suddenly wondering if nutella uses primates in its ingredients, the answer is no. I’m referring to the fact that palm oil production is responsible for a big part of habitat destruction for, not only primates, but many species of animals (and plants too). Adding to this, it also contains milk which makes it also non-vegan in a more direct way.
So we embarked on a journey across the internet, and found some interesting, weird, simple, or very complicated recipes for a vegan hazelnut spread. We had trouble agreeing on one recipe, so we decided to call on our inner hazelnut-geniuses and mash everything together to create our own.
The result was fabulous, but the process a little bit nerve-racking as we almost had it, destroyed it, fidgeted around and finally fixed it. Here is a retake on this wonderful experimenting.
Here is what you’ll need:
- 200g hazelnuts
- 200g sugar
- 100g powdered sugar (adjust to taste)
- 40 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- dash of vanilla extract
Here is what you do:
- Turn your oven to 350F. On a cookie sheet, spread the hazelnuts and let them roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them: you want them to be a nice golden colour.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan set on medium heat, add a third of the sugar and let it melt. We are making dry caramel here: exciting! Once the first third has melted, had the second third and melt. Add the final third and let everything melt into a wonderful golden color. DO NOT STIR THIS! You can roll around the caramel in the sauce pan, but stirring it while cooking will make this die, so don’t.
- Spread the caramel on parchment paper and let cool completely. Pour warm water in your sauce pan immediately and let sit to make your cleaning process easier.
- Take the hazelnuts out of the oven and let them cool a little. Then, put them in a mesh strainer and rub them until the skins are separated. This is a good time to put some music on and dance over your sink: it is a longish process.
- Once your hazelnut are skin-free, place them in your food processor and process until you have a fine powder. Add the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar. Mix until combined and add the vanilla extract. Mix.
- Break your cooled caramel into pieces and add it to your processor. Mix for a few minutes until the mixture has a dough-like consistency and balls start to form in your food processor.
- Add the milk and mix until you have a thick, delicious hazelnut paste.
This recipe might look scary because of the dry caramel, but taking the time to do this really adds a nice flavour to the spread. However, because caramel is a little bit more bitter than sugar, I find it is a good idea to add powdered sugar, but you can of course adjust this to your liking. DO NOT USE MAPLE SYRUP! This is one of the ways we killed our first batch: adding maple syrup made our dough separate from the oils contained in the hazelnuts and made for a very scary looking mixture.
The solution to this: milk! You’ll want to add a little bit of liquid, and instead of using oil, almond milk gives this a more spreadable consistency. The more you add the easier it will be to spread, so you can play around with this too.
Keep this amazing chocolaty spread in the fridge, and enjoy, by the spoonful in the middle of the night… or maybe not (but I know you will!). Let me know if you try it out!