i’m not sure that one ever wants to be the downfall of their friends. but, sometimes that is a role that one must take. it’s a serious matter, really, being the demise of a friend. luckily, this was a demise built upon chocolate and hazelnuts, cream, a little sea salt, and whatever said friend would like to use as an accoutrement to that combination. even if it was just a spoon.
i made nutella pie for my father-in-law’s birthday many moons ago. at least four moons, in fact, if you’re keeping count. i made it again, to take to a friend’s cottage. and then it occurred to me that the pie crust was a conduit for really what was some solid chocolate hazelnut spread. so, i made the spread. and took it to the cottage, for pancakes and toast. and took some to a friend who was kind enough to host a baby shower for a mutual friend, and who i suspect would be my kindred spirit in the kitchen, if we were ever to live in the same city. she ate it with cherries and ate it with a spoon. frankly, i don’t blame her. if i wasn’t trying to fit into smaller clothing, or if i were biking to work 10 kilometers everyday, i might have as well.
chocolate hazelut spread
adapted from flour
makes about 4 cups
1 cup whole natural hazelnuts
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound milk chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
preheat oven to 350F.
toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until dark, dark brown (you could call this liberally toasting). cool.
in a food processor, pulse about half of the hazelnuts until finely ground. roughly crush or chop the other half of the nuts by hand (using a rolling pin and bag) or pulsing in the food processor gently.
in a small saucepan, combine the cream and the finely ground nuts and scald over medium-high heat. bubbles will form around the edge of the pan, but you do not want the mixture to boil.
remove from the heat and let the mixture sit for about an hour to infuse the cream. (if you’re using this as a filling, this is a pretty good time to make the shell[s].)
strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
place the chocolates in a medium, heatproof bowl or top pot of a double boiler. place over barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally.
whisk the cream into the chocolate until fully combined. add the crushes hazelnuts, salt and vanilla and whisk until complete.
if you’re not using this in a tart shell, pour into glass containers and cover with a jar. refrigerate for up to a week, assuming you can keep your spoon out of it.
note: if you are making a full batch of this, and don’t have friends to give it away to, you can also freeze the mixture and bring it bake to room temperature before eating.