‘You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not a Nutella jar.’ I saw this little musing posted on Instagram for World Nutella Day, yes, another day dedicated to a specific food, but one I think is absolutely deserved given that it is probably one of the most loved products on the planet.
Michele Ferrero, the creator of Nutella and Forbes’ ‘richest candyman on the planet’ died two years ago on the 15th February 2015, just days before Shrove Tuesday, when people worldwide would have lathered the legendary spread over their pancakes.
Ferrero’s father, Pietro, came up with an idea in the postwar years that would later become the foundations of Nutella. During this time, chocolate was a rationed luxury and unattainable for most people. Pietro wanted to create a sweet spread that everyone could enjoy. To do this, he used less of the expensive cocoa and, instead, lots and lots of hazelnuts which were far cheaper as well as being abundant in northwest Italy, where the family were from. Pietro created ‘pasta Gianduja’, hazelnut paste, in 1946, which was originally sold as a solid block that people sliced up and put between bread to make sandwiches.
Michele Ferrero took over from his father and decided to play around a bit with the recipe, notably adding palm oil, to make a smooth spread called ‘Supercrema’ in 1949. Ferrero’s son, Giovanni, spoke about his father’s obsession to find the perfect formula, recalling how he would wake up his grandmother in the middle of the night with a spoonful to taste. Once he was happy with the product, he renamed it Nutella and the first jar was launched in 1964 and was an instant success in Italy. However, Ferrero had bigger plans and in 1983 Nutella was launched in the US… the rest is history. Ferrero became the richest man in Italy, and well deserved.
In his honour I wanted to make my own version of the chocolaty treat. This one is made with more nutritious ingredients and tastes a touch more grown up thanks to the rich raw cacao.
Despite one of the main reasons for buying my Vitamix for its promises of making nut butters with ease, I have only ever failed miserably and become increasingly frustrated as £10 worth of nuts turn into a congealed mess. A standard food processor is much more reliable for this, and then you can transfer your mixture into your high-speed blender in the last step if you want a really smooth consistency.
Apart from the obvious pairing with toast, try it with ice cream, yoghurt, banana, strawberries or just with a spoon (naturally).
Homemade Nutella (Vegan, GF, DF)
280g blanched hazelnuts
3-5 tbsp. mild olive oil
4 tbsp. raw cacao
2 pinches salt
6-8 tbsp. granulated sugar of choice, or to taste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. chocolate extract (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC (fan oven) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Put the hazelnuts on the baking tray and cook for about 12 minutes or until golden and fragrant, giving the tray a shake half way so that each side gets nice and toasty.
Let the nuts cool before putting into a food processor and blending. At first you will create a flour like consistency but as you continue to blend, the oils in the nuts will start to be released to form a nut butter. This may take about 5 minutes and you will need to scrape down the sides a few times.
Add 3 tbsp. oil and continue to blend. This should help to smooth out your nut butter. The more you blend, the smoother your nut butter should become.
When your mixture looks somewhere between chunky and smooth nut butter, add the rest of the ingredients and continue to blend, adding more oil if it needs it. Taste for sweetness and richness, adding more sugar and a touch more cacao to suit your taste (I tend to go for more!).
If you have a high-speed blender, transfer the mixture into this now and blend on the highest speed for a minute or two until silky smooth.
Transfer to a sterilised jar and store in a cool, dry, dark cupboard.