This is a story of love lost and found, which begins with the discovery of this delectable Nutella knock-off from Trader Joe’s. For years I’ve resisted buying Nutella because of the trans fats that were added for the U.S. market. Those trans fats have recently been removed, but I didn’t succumb to the chocolate/hazelnut thing until I came across this Cocoa Haze at Trader Joe's.
Oh my, was this stuff ever good! I mean really good. It was most definitely cocoa love.
Then a few weeks ago we picked up stakes and left for the California Coast and the Circle B Kitchen Western Headquarters for a month. Knowing I would have two Trader Joe’s stores there from which to pick up some Cocoa Haze, I left my jar at home. Can you imagine my devastation to find that neither store carried it?! I was now officially addicted to the stuff and was not, I repeat, not going to spend a month without my chocolate-hazelnut fix.
So I did what any marginally unhinged person might do… I made my own. I realize that I could have just gone and bought some Nutella, and believe me I was tempted to do so. But by now I had this recipe from the L.A. Times in hand and 2 bags of hazelnuts in my Trader Joe’s basket.
And this is the part of the story where love lost becomes found again. After roasting up those hazelnuts, I tossed them in the food processor with some good cocoa powder, the rest of the ingredients, and whirled them all up together. Sigh. Is there anything quite as exquisite as the return of a lost love? I think not, even if it comes in the form of a heavenly chocolate/hazelnut spread.
Recipe adapted from the L.A. Times
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Note: Use good-quality cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger.
2 cups raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar (more or less depending on your own tastes)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil, more as needed (I used close to 4)
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins (it's OK to leave a few on).
2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt and hazelnut oil to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Allow the spread to come to room temperature before using, as it thickens considerably when refrigerated. It will keep refrigerated for at least a week.