Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut (Nutella) Spread
Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) is a guilty pleasure for people around the world. In most European countries, it’s not difficult to find a spot that makes fresh crepes filled with banana and Nutella. In the US, there are television commercials which tout Nutella as a healthy option for breakfast!! Personally, I had always enjoyed just eating it right off of the spoon. The problem with store-bought Nutella is that it’s really not healthy. The top two ingredients are sugar and oil. For those who have transitioned to a healthier way of eating, Nutella can taste sickeningly sweet and processed.
I made it my mission to try and make a healthier version of this decadent spread. One that could not only satisfy my sweet tooth, but that could also provide the health benefits of nuts and cocoa and limit the unhealthy sugars and oils. Ultimately, I was able to adapt a recipe I originally found on the Minimalist Baker blog. While this variation does contain some sugar, there is only 1/4 cup total for an entire pound of hazelnuts. And there is no additional added oil. I did experiment with various sweeteners and settled finally on a combination of coconut sugar and confectioner’s sugar, although you could certainly try using honey, agave, or even dates. I’ve found that the liquid sweeteners do affect the texture (and for those super-tasters out there, perhaps even the flavor), so you have to figure out what you enjoy best!! The original recipe did call for melting down chocolate, but I opted instead to use cocoa powder so I could more closely fine-tune the quality and sweetness (this is an option on the original recipe as well).
- 1 pound blanched hazelnuts (I got mine from Nuts.com). Blanching means the skins are already removed (which can be a difficult process to do on your own)
- 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder (find a high quality powder or use cacao powder to minimize processing). This can be found at most grocery stores, but I also ordered some on Nuts.com.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (consider starting with 1/8 teaspoon and adding more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
5/11/2019 UPDATE: Lately I’ve been using 1 cup raw almonds with 2 cups of hazelnuts. This combination seems to give the perfect texture!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on large baking sheet
- Bake hazelnuts until lightly browned (10-15 minutes), mixing around every few minutes to make sure they are evenly baked. WATCH CLOSELY to avoid burning
- Once nuts are cooled (20 minutes or so) place in a high-speed blender and blend at low speed (1-2/10) until a smooth butter forms. In my blender, this usually takes 8-10 45-second cycles. Be sure to scrape the sides between each cycle to ensure even mixing.
- As butter is forming, add other ingredients and blend until evenly mixed
- Over-blending may cause a more watery texture. Adding liquid sweeteners may cause a thicker texture.