ON A NUT SPREE
HOME MADE HAZELNUT SPREAD
Who’d ever have thought we’d find such an abundance of nuts in our old hometown – good old Rosevalley? Not us, that’s for sure! When we recently hit the Netherlands – neither for business nor pleasure (see our travel log for updates), we went on a serious nut rampage.
It all started rather innocently with a couple of beech nuts in a forest near the Veluwe, whilst enjoying the last summer sunshine and creating a beechy community of tiny houses. Saar’s doing, needless to say, but what else is a girl to do with a floor full of tiny treasures and an overly active right brain?
A dozen beech nuts turned into a thousand. Then chestnuts followed. We climbed trees, exposed ourselves to nettles, brambles and some particularly stinking mud (god I hope that was mud). We threw sticks and behaved like anything but proper adults.
It got from bad to worse when we discovered a beautiful set of walnut trees. They were just chilling there, right in the midst of a residential area. We gathered any nuts lying around. Plucked them from low hanging branches. Went home. Came back. Shook those trees like madmen and returned home again with an obscene amount of walnuts. (No worries, though, there was STILL plenty left for any other nut lovers).
And then there were the hazelnuts. Those didn’t even need any stick throwing or tree shaking – one might argue picking them up by the hundreds from the street was a rather boring activity. But the sun was shining, music playing through our trustworthy JBL portable speaker and we were in good company. So, we gathered and gathered and answered questions from bypassers about what we were gathering and why (I mean, who eats random stuff fallen from a tree, am I right?!!), gathered some more and explained some more, until finally we could literally carry no more on our bikes.
Thus, we concluded our stay in Brabant with THIS stash:
Oh, there’s sunflower seeds, too. Forgot to mention those.
Anyway, now that we were completely stacked up on nuts, it was time to endlessly postpone making this delicious hazelnut spread. We had good reasons though; we were simply too busy roasting chestnuts and finishing our supply of wet walnuts before they dried out!
On a rainy October day in the French Ardennes the time had finally come to start cracking, mashing and mixing some of those beauties into a spread that I swear tastes better than Nuttella. And we all know Nuttela = life.
The recipe for this homemade hazelnut spread is rather simple, but be warned: it will be gone all too soon! So you may want to consider cooking up a double, triple or why not quadruple amount of this heavenly goodness. I am trying not to exaggerate here guys, I really am. It’s just THAT GOOD.
With the amounts described below, we filled about half of a 600ml mayonnaise jar. We are currently rationing what’s left until we’ve made a new batch. There’s just no way of going back to Mr. Choc or even real Nutella after trying this stuff. Well, at least not before we’re out of hazelnuts. Which may take a while.
Ok. Without further ado: recipe below.
RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE NUTELLA / HAZELNUT SPREAD
– 225g peeled hazelnuts (gathered or store bought)
– 55g cocoa powder
– 140g powdered sugar
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 6 tablespoons (plant based) oil
– some salt
– some extra sugar (powdered or regular)
1. Have a good session of cracking and peeling your hazelnuts (a groove plyer does wonders if you’re a nutcracker-less traveler like us).
2. Roast the hazelnuts. Fifteen minutes at 160C will do the trick, or just heat them up in a pan on low heat. Now the peels will be removed quite easily. Simply leave any peels that won’t come off, this won’t affect the deliciousness of your hazelnut spread!
3. Time to get mixing! First grind your hazelnuts to tiny pieces, then add all other ingredients (EXCEPT oil and the extra sugar). When everything’s mashed up add oil bit by bit, to keep an eye on the solidity of the spread you wish to achieve.
4. Have a taste, and if needed add some extra sugar. We thought ours could use a little extra to hit the sweet spot, so we added about 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
5. Make sure you store your hazelnut spread in a crisp clean jar, but since you’re not an idiot you’ve probably figured that out yourself. We cooked ours to make sure it was 100% germ – and mayonnaise- free. I suppose you could do the vacuum trick by pouring in your hazelnut spread while still hot and turning the jar upside down, but we guarantee you’re going to want to eat this right away – so that doesn’t really make sense anyway.
Now you have a delicious jar of hazelnut goodness that Nutella wouldn’t dare compete with! Sorry Nutella, we still love you.