Thursday, February 06, 2014

Homemade Vegan Nutella

So with World Nutella Day approaching and me being the ambitious baker who wants to try everything homemade, I decided to try making my own Nutella this time. Not only is this spread healthier than the commercial variety, lower in fat and sugar, it is also vegan. It is not quite as smooth as regular Nutella, which I think is because it is impossible to remove all the skins from the hazelnuts, they must have machines for that at the factory. Plus my food processor is not as powerful as their's would be either. However, this Nutella can be used just as the original - by the spoonful, as a spread, or in baking. 

Homemade Vegan Nutella
2 cups raw whole hazelnuts
1/3 cup dates
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
approximately 1/2 cup almond milk
2 - 4 Tablespoons honey, maple syrup, agave, or sugar*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch salt (optional)
2 teaspoons coconut oil (optional, buts adds to smoothness)

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for ten minutes, stirring after five minutes. Remove the peelings from the hazelnuts. This may be done easily by using a dish towel or paper towels to rub the hazelnuts on the baking sheet, which will easily pry off the skins. It may be necessary to take the hazelnuts between the towels in small groups or individually to remove some skins. Don't worry about removing every single piece of skin, they are certainly edible, and a few stubborn ones won't matter. If a thick enough towel is used, it is not necessary to cool the hazelnuts first and it warms up the hands nicely.

Process the hazelnuts in a food processor for a few minutes until the mixture turns into hazelnut butter. Add remaining ingredients and process until very smooth. Add more milk if it is not smooth enough. That's it, you have some Nutella! Eat immediately, use as desired, or store in the refrigerator for about a week or so. 

*The dates in the recipe already contribute to the sweetness of the spread without really changing the flavor or texture. I suppose a greater quantity could be used if desired, or they could also be omitted in lieu of another sweetener or completely. The sweetness of this spread depends on your personal tastes. With dates, the recipe does not require more sugar, but more may be added. Maple syrup or honey will make a thinner texture and impose a stronger flavor, but will require less quantity. Sugar will not make as smooth a texture and may not dissolve as well, but will not change flavor and will require more. Use you sweetener of choice and taste as you go along, as you can always add more as you like. 

Roasting the hazelnuts: This is not a necessary step, so raw hazelnuts may be used, but I think the spread is more flavorful and the oils release more easily if the nuts are roasted. This also allows easy removal of the skin, though this is not necessary either, it will make the texture a lot smoother. 

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