Oh Nutella. How much we love thee. My flat consumes an abnormal amount of nutella.
As a tribute to this, when flatmate one was at a chocolate factory near her home in Belgium she bought us a jar of their chocolate spread. We didn't dare open the little jar of 'posh tella' and had a few jars of regular nutella instead. Then flatmate two bought a jar of sainsbury's own to see if the cheaper option was acceptable.
It seemed quite obvious to me - I needed to try out one of the lovely recipes for homemade nutella, and then we needed to have a taste test. A dégustation.
Homemade nutella is ridiculously easy to make. Just a matter of roasting nuts, de-skinning them and then a lot of pressing the 'on' button on your food processor. You could even buy the hazelnuts ready to go. It's like magic!
I blasted and re-blasted mine but it never lost that slightly grainy texture. I actually think I might prefer it slightly grainy, particularly on toast. It seems pretty difficult to get that smooth spread feel with homemade.
To set up our little dégustation, we invited two friends over (better statistics...), then I put a two tablespoons of each type in a ramekin, with a number below. Each tester had a sheet of paper with each number, a mark out of ten and a space for a comment. At the end they were asked to identify each one. Each person tested each spread both on a spoon and with a small square of bread. They had some tea and sparkling water to refresh between each tasting. (Yes, I am a food geek.)
Number One was flatmate one's belgian spread. It scored 5.5/10 on average.
Number Two was the classic Nutella. It got 7/10.
Number Three was my homemade version. It also got 7/10.
Number Four was sainsbury's Belgian Chocolate Spread. It was given 6.25/10.
The homemade had the highest single score, with 9/10. All of the comments about mine noted a slightly grainier texture and a more pronounced hazelnut flavour. Apparently it's also 'more eatable'. Everybody correctly identified Nutella and the homemade version, though the other two were consistently mixed up - which is pretty interesting considering the supposed quality and price difference. As they all correctly identified my spread, I sense a little bias towards not upsetting me in the marking process...
All in all, it was a lovely evening. I've been told that we should have a second edition with something different. Jam was a suggestion - any ideas?
My favourite way to eat my homemade version so far (others include crumpets, toast, a spoon...) is squished between two digestive biscuits. I'm not entirely sure why it works, and why it works better than traditional nutella, but it does. Something in the nutty flavour and texture with the crunch and taste of digestives just comes together perfectly. It can be a little dry - I recommend a cup of tea. Essay break perfection.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread a.k.a. Nutella
(Recipe from The Mini Sam Tan Kitchen)
150g whole hazelnuts
100g good quality milk chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder
65g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 180C and roast the hazelnuts for about 5-10 minutes, until fragrant and browned. Take out and leave to cool slightly before putting in a tea towel and rubbing vigorously to remove the skins. When they have cooled slightly place in a food processor and blend well until they become a thick paste. Add all the rest of the ingredients and keep blending until very smooth - this takes 10 minutes or so.