21 January, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Recently, we got a coupon for Nutella from Costco. So we got 2 jars, then 2 more, then... Well, let's just say we got hooked on the stuff. But there are some issues with the ingredients being less than healthy.

Last week, I saw a video from Splendor in the Raw where Chef Tina Jo makes this Chocolate Hazelnut Spread in the food processor. If you know me, you won't be surprised that I used hers as a jumping off place. I tend to like things a bit less sweet than other people. The taste of the hazel nuts really sings out here. The butter needed a bit more liquid, so I put a little more coconut oil in it. This is the result.

Place in food processor and process until it forms a paste (like peanut butter):

2 c. raw hazelnuts, soaked over night
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Be patient with this part. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape the nuts down from the sides. It also keeps things from heating up too much. Tina Jo says it takes 10 to 15 minutes to get to the right texture. I rushed it and my spread came out a bit 'grainy'. I processed it a bunch more at the end, but the machine had to work a lot harder than if I had done it at this point.

Add, then process again until smooth:

3/4 c. liquid coconut oil.

Coconut oil has a melting point of 78 degrees. My kitchen tends to run really cold in the winter. So my coconut oil is like a rock. To liquify the oil, just sit the jar of oil in a bowl of warm water. The oil will melt around the edges. Then you can pour it into your measuring cup.

Next, add:

3/4 c. agave or honey
1/4 c. yacon syrup

This time of year, honey tends to crystalize. Put the jar in a bowl of warm water until it becomes liquid again.

Finally, add to processor and run until creamy:

3/4 to 1 c. raw cacao powder

Store in a tightly closed glass jar. No need to refrigerate. Tina says it will keep for a month, but I am not sure that shelf life will be tested at our house. ;)

Hazelnut butter is tasty on whole wheat (even sourdough) bread or pancakes. Spread some on an apple, pear, or banana. It goes really well with flax crackers. I caught my 12 year old spooning it right out of the jar. You could even put some over home made ice cream. ;)

Just a couple of notes:

* I really recommend the Tropical Traditions coconut oil. It has a really mellow flavor that goes well with the nuts and chocolate. In addition, their oil is produced by families in the Philippines in their traditional way: minimal heating, no chemicals, and it supports families in one of the poorest countries in the world. For those who want to support 'made in America' the Philippines are a US territory.

* Yacon syrup is made from the root of a plant in the sunflower family. It has no glucose in it, so it is often recommended for diabetics. Yacon also contains a significant amount of antioxidants and pre biotics (particularly fructooligosaccharides - FOS - which supports normal gastro-intestinal flora and fauna). The taste, however, may take some getting used to, since it has a strong flavor, somewhat like molasses. For this reason, I used it as only part of the sweetener. Yacon goes quite well with chocolate, however. I had some amazing chocolates made with yacon at the Young Living convention last year.