One American crop grown almost exclusively in Oregon is the filbert nut, commonly known as the hazelnut. Thousands of acres of filbert groves thrive in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which stretches north to south along much of the state, providing not only commercial hazelnuts but also beauty to the already stunning countryside.
When I thought about uses for Oregon’s hazelnuts, making a homemade Nutella type spread was the first idea that came to mind. I have never actually tried Nutella, and because of its high sugar and palm oil content I probably won’t, but I have heard and read of countless people who adore the stuff. It’s crack-like addictive quality was commonly mentioned in reviews. I found several recipes online for healthier homemade versions of the chocolate hazelnut spread and after trying a few different ones, I settled on the recipe below to share. The nuts are quite oily naturally so I didn’t feel like any extra oil was needed, and I was happy with the final consistency. If in using this recipe you want the spread thinner, you could drizzle some vegetable oil (peanut might taste best) into the food processor at the end, but I found this to be perfectly spreadable on a banana muffin or chewy bread, even after refrigeration.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Ingredients: yields 1 1/2 cups
- 2 cups shelled, roasted and skinned hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened 100% Cacao cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 small pinch kosher salt
To roast and skin the nuts start with ones that are already shelled. Spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 275 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, stirring on pan every 10 minutes to brown evenly. When done, the nuts will be very fragrant with the skins almost black and the meat a medium brown. To remove the skins I put the warm hazelnuts on a dish towel to cool and then rubbed them around in the towel until they were mostly skinned. This was a little messy and took about 5-10 minutes. There was still skin on some of the nuts, which is okay.
Add the hazelnuts to a high powered food processor. I do not think a small processor or blender will grind the nuts fine enough to make a smooth spread, so use a large food processor or wait until you have one to try this. Grind the hazelnuts until they turn to a mostly liquid form (that’s right, they release so much natural oil a smooth viscous form is possible), stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. The nuts will go from finely ground bits, to clumping in a ball, to liquid in about 5 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and process until mixed thoroughly. That’s it!
Enjoy the spread on whatever your heart desires, which for me included simply a spoon. I also enjoyed it on bananas, apple slices, dried apricots, muffins, toast and mixed into hot breakfast cereal.