30 November 2014

Crunchy Nutella

It might look like ordinary Nutella, but this jar has a secret ingredient - CRUNCH!

I've eaten peanut butter and Nutella for years, like most other people I reckon. One thing that has always surprised me is that we take it for granted that peanut butter is crunchy and that Nutella is smooth, but I've always thought there should be a crunchy version of Nutella too. So...

  • Nutella (duh)
  • Whole hazelnuts (duh again)
  • oven at 160°C
  • Mezzaluna knife for chopping
  • Patience

I bought the smallest jar of Nutella for the experiment. I also bought whole hazelnuts, because the only other way to buy them was as a powder, ground up, presumably as a flour substitute or for hazelnut meringues. The only problem with the hazelnuts was the skin on them (under the shell) and I was faced with the prospect of the long, laborious process of peeling the skins off. Fortunately, we live in the internet age and I swiftly found My Baking Addiction where good information is given.

One thing I would advise if you'd like to follow my lead is to make sure your pan has higher sides than normal or that you just use a bigger pan than would seem necessary since the bicarb bubbles up a *lot*. Anyway, after three or so minutes, the skins are easy to remove just by rubbing with your thumb. It's still messy and somewhat laborious, but I reckon this would be a good step to confide to kids, if you have them (or can borrow a neighbour's?).

Peeled and roasted hazelnuts
The knife I used (gingerly) to chop
The next step is to roast the peeled hazelnuts. I left them in the oven at about 160°C for about 15 minutes, but just keep checking - I waited until a lovely smell was coming from the oven. Take them out and let them cool for a bit, then chop them into small bits. This step is also fastidious and pretty much needs to be done manually. My experiments with an electric shopper thingy made too much powder rather than the little nibs you want so I chopped and sorted.

If you are only doing a small jar to test like me, I reckon I used about 20 hazelnuts chopped up and the nice thing is that there's enough space in the jar above the Nutella that you can tip them in and mix. However, today I decided to do a 630g jar and for the bits to be more evenly distributed through the paste, I emptied about half the jar out, added nuts and mixed, added some more back, added nuts and mixed, and so on until all the Nutella was back in the jar. If the hazelnuts are still slightly warm this is actually easier to do since their warmth melts the Nutella a little. Anyway, I guess I added about 60-75 nuts to this jar, a few more relatively than the original tester.

The resulting crunchy Nutella has a pleasingly sophisticated flavour from the roasting of the hazelnuts and I will be examining whether I can send a jar to friends in the US in the post office tomorrow - more awkward since forcibly you need to unseal the jar to mix everything together and security forces might imagine you'd put anthrax or something equally unpleasant in.

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