Gianduja — Homemade Nutella
The first time I had Nutella was in a very unlikely place — on the island of Tahiti! Tahiti, being a French Protectorate, means that all kinds of delicious European treats are readily available in markets except on some of the smaller islands. Also, fresh baguettes are delivered several times a day to even lowly gas station convenience stores! It was crazy wonderful.
At any rate, I was staying at a pension where they provided natural alarm clocks for everyone in the form of a band of semi-wild chickens. Fortunately, they also served breakfast, which included the aforementioned baguettes along with a variety of jams and Nutella. Although the baguettes were no longer warm, they were very fresh and the Nutella was the perfect antidote for a night during which I was wakened several times by dueling roosters. Even better, I sat next to a small group of Italians who had grown up on Gianduja (same thing only homemade), and we visited cheerfully in a mixture of Italian (them) and Spanish (me). It was a watershed moment.
My absolute favorite way to use Gianduja is on a fresh croissant in the morning or butter cookies with afternoon tea or evening dessert. Make sure to warm the spread first, either in a microwave, or in a pan with hot water on low heat as it’s easier to spread and so much more delicious!
You can use skinned walnuts or almonds if you wish. I imagine you could even use pistachios. This is how the paste should look. Not as thick as peanut butter but well ground: When you add the chocolate, cream and butter, use a whisk. It will not be completely smooth as there are tiny bits of hazelnut. This spread is so much better than Nutella — richer, less sweet, and much more flavorful! An easy, delicious gift to yourself and others.
- 2 cups hazelnuts, mostly skinned
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 /4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast until deep brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove the skins.
- Grind the hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a paste forms, about 1 minute.
- Place the chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Set the bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the heat; then add the butter and vanilla and whisk until completely incorporated. Whisk in the cream and salt, then the hazelnut paste.
- Pour gianduja into jars, dividing equally. Let cool.
Spread will keep well for several weeks in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long).
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