Some people say that Nutella is the peanut butter of Europe. I'd have to agree. When I backpacked through Europe in 2005, I too often found myself in the 'exotic foods' section of the grocery store desperately searching the shelves for a jar of peanut butter. Usually there were just one or two jars of creamy unsalted for about twice as much as I would pay in the U.S. But price was not an issue, because denying oneself of a peanut butter craving for an entire month is not healthy, at least not for me.
My German friend has told me she's had a similar experience with buying Nutella in California. The stuff is way more expensive here than it is in Europe, and usually there is just that one brand - Nutella, whereas European groceries offer far more options.
Since I just got back from a week long European excursion through Germany and Prague, I am dedicating this post to Europe and it's delicious culinary invention of Nutella, or more generally, chocolate hazelnut spread.
I was curious about making my own chocolate hazelnut spread, but I wanted to try it with almonds instead of hazelnuts (I'll explain why in the next post). I found this recipe on Baking Bites and made a few adjustments.
Ok, I'm not going to lie -- this was not easy. Well, the original recipe is easy, but since I was looking for a smooth spread, I had to strain it all through a sieve to get rid of the chunkiness from the ground almond. But the taste? It was amazing and totally worth the effort. This spread had a strong almond flavor which was very nicely balanced with a sweet chocolatey flavor. All in all, this was chocolate almond heaven.
Chocolate Almond Spread (adapted from Baking Bites)
- 1/3 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1/2 cup dry nonfat milk powder
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
1. In a medium saucepan, combine almond meal, dry milk powder, brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch. Add in milk and vegetable oil and whisk until smooth.
2. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture begins to thicken and just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
3. To get a smooth spread, strain the mixture by placing small portions of it, one at a time, in a strainer. Use a spoon and the strainer to separate the mixture and the almond meal.
4. Transfer the spread to a heatproof container, preferably one with an airtight lid. Cool to room temperature and, if not eating right away, store in the fridge with an airtight lid on the container.