Thanks to my mom and one bitchin’ sale-plus-coupons trip to Macy’s, I scored both a nice food processor and cast-iron Dutch oven for my birthday. Then I promptly got food poisoning and didn’t care if I ever saw them again, since food could just go to hell as far as I was concerned. (Even online pictures of food made me queasy; it was a bad week.) But then I got better! And I figured that homemade Nutella was a good way to break in the food processor, since chocolate and hazelnuts are two of my favorite things, but I think the actual stuff is kind of gross. I used to love it and I don’t know if they changed the formulation in recent years, or if it’s just my aging palate or what, but I don’t really taste anything beyond oil and sugar. Not surprising, since sugar and palm oil are the two first listed ingredients. And since oil palm plantations are a major contributing factor to deforestation and loss of biodiversity in Malaysia and Indonesia (orangutans!), it can just go to hell too.
There are loads of Nutella recipes online, but I’d printed this recipe from the LA Times at some point and started with that. In the ‘pro’ column, it tastes very good. It’s very nutty and not too sweet and has a thick, velvety, ever-so-slightly gritty texture that I really dig. That said, I had a couple of problems with it, both with the making of and the actual product. First, my nuts never turned into a smooth butter, despite whirring around for far longer than the five minutes the recipe said it would take. They achieved the texture of wet sand and stayed there. I’m pretty sure it’s the oils in the nuts that make the sand-to-butter transformation possible, so I’m guessing my nuts were too dry? They were nice, fresh coop nuts and I tasted a few as I threw them in the bowl (they were fine), so I don’t know what the deal was. I ended up having to double the amount of oil to make something that wasn’t the consistency of library paste. I didn’t have hazelnut oil so I substituted walnut oil, but I doubt that made a huge difference. My biggest problem, really, is that I can’t taste the chocolate at all. It’s a lovely toasty-hazelnut concoction that I’ve been eating by the spoonful more or less nonstop for the last 24 hours, but it just isn’t right. I would have added more cocoa, but since it was kind of dry to start with, I didn’t want to get into a more-cocoa-more-oil cycle.
I think my next attempt it going to be either David Lebovitz’s recipe or Julie’s slightly simplified version of it. The ingredient lists are pretty radically different from the LA Times one, so I have high hopes for a radically different product.