Monday, January 28, 2013


Hazelnut Spread

This non-dairy version of a hazelnut chocolate spread is delicious, versatile and can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator or freezer, for several months.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole raw hazelnuts, skins rubbed off
½ cup raw skinless almonds,
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I only use Valrhona)
1 ounce bittersweet (at least 70% cacao content) chocolate, melted (I prefer Callebaut 71% bittersweet)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1.   Preparation: Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2.   Make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a 3- to 4-cup saucepan. (To prevent crystallization, don’t stir it again during the cooking) Cover and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the lid and wipe down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush or a scrunched up paper towel dipped in water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar’s completely dissolved.
3.    Uncover and cook until the syrup looks like pale amber maple syrup. If your pan’s dark and you can’t gauge the color of the syrup, spoon a drop or two onto a white saucer. Swirl the pan gently, continuing to cook and test the color until the syrup turns medium amber.
4.   Immediately pour the caramel onto the lined baking sheet. Tilt the sheet to spread the caramel as thinly as possible. Let harden completely, about 15 minutes.

5.   Toast the nuts: Meanwhile, place the hazelnuts and almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.

6.   To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins come off, but don’t worry if some remain.

7.   Make the nut butter: When the caramel is completely cool, break it into small pieces and pulverize in a food processor. Try to get the caramel as fine as possible at this stage (it won’t get finer once you add the nuts).

8.   Add the nuts and process until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Be patient; the nuts will go from a fine meal, to forming a ball around the blade, to nut butter. Add the cocoa, melted chocolate, vanilla and salt and process until smooth.

  1. Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using

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