Nutella–that chocolate-hazelnut manna from Italy–is so good it’s inspired people to name their children after it. But some diehards were unhappy when they changed the recipe (adding more skim milk and sugar). Even those who weren’t put off by the update must admit it can be a little cloying after a spoonful or two. Luckily, making homemade Nutella is not only easy, but way more delicious, and healthier too.
The key is to get the freshest hazelnuts you can find. Blitz them up with some chocolate and a handful of pantry staples and in about 30 minutes, you have a jar of pure decadence–that happens to be better for you than the mass-produced stuff, as well as nuttier, more chocolately, and far less sweet. You can do almost all the same things with it, though: stir it into hot chocolate, spread it on a grilled peanut butter sandwich, use it to stuff banana bread and French toast and fill crepes, swap it in for some or all of the peanut butter in no-bake energy balls, eat it off a spoon…
The texture will be grainier, so you may not want to use homemade Nutella in certain desserts where a super-smooth, perfectly creamy texture is paramount (like Nutella cheesecake or buttercream frosting), but in baked goods and other applications, it won’t make so much of a difference–and in any case, it will taste a million times more amazing than the store-bought stuff. Plus, you can feel good knowing exactly what went into it.
You only need:
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 12 ounces chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil or coconut oil
- 1 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, to taste
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
Here’s what to do:
1. Toast your hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 350?F and place the nuts in a single layer on a baking pan. Toast for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan to move the hazelnuts around once or twice, and being careful not to burn them. When they’re fragrant and a little darker and the skins are starting to blister and come off, remove them and wrap in a kitchen towel; let them sit for 10 minutes, then vigorously rub them in the towel to remove most of the skins. It’s fine if you don’t get them all off. (And you can buy already toasted hazelnuts if you prefer to skip this step.) Discard the skins.
Blitzin’How to Make Homemade Nut Butter2. Grind the toasted nuts in a high-powered blender or food processor. You’re basically making homemade nut butter, but if you don’t have capable equipment (or you just like shortcuts), you can start with a jar of all-natural, sugar-free–and preferably salt-free–hazelnut butter you bought at the store, in which case, scoop one cup out into a medium bowl and skip ahead to step 3. Otherwise, grind the toasted nuts on high speed until they break down into small pieces, then a powder, then a paste. It may take several minutes, and unless you have the highest of high-end machines, it won’t be possible to get perfectly smooth paste, but that’s okay; it adds to the allure. (If you’re determined to get it smoother, you can always press it through a fine-mesh strainer after it’s all done to remove remaining tiny bits of nuts.) If you prefer it even chunkier, stop as soon as it reaches the consistency you like, or mix in some reserved chopped hazelnuts.
3. Heat the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler, just until melted and smooth, then stir in the cocoa powder, oil, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until everything is incorporated and smooth, then scrape into the hazelnut butter and blend again just until fully incorporated. (Stir the chocolate mixture in manually if you started off with store-bought hazelnut butter.) The mixture may look a bit runny, but it will thicken and firm up a bit as it cools.
4. Taste to see if you want to adjust the seasoning, but try not to eat the entire batch immediately.
5. Pour your Nutella into a clean, resealable glass jar or container. You can store it at room temperature, away from heat and direct light, for up to a month (as if it’s going to last that long), or a bit longer in the fridge, though that will make it harder to spread at a moment’s notice.
Variations: Part of the fun of homemade Nutella is the ability to tinker with it. You can adjust the levels of salt and sugar, and use whatever type of sweetener you prefer (even eliminate additional sugar entirely). You can use milk chocolate for a sweeter, creamier flavor, dark chocolate for a deeper taste, or semisweet for something in between. Instead of neutral oil or coconut oil, you can use hazelnut or walnut oil to intensify the nutty notes. And you can add a dash or two of other spices if you want–try orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice (in which case, you might want to try swapping in white chocolate), or even add a pinch of cayenne for a little kick.
Any kind of homemade Nutella is great to give as a gift, but if you can’t bear to part with it, here are some things you can make with it, in between eating bites straight off a spoon.
Banana bread generously marbled with Nutella is already amazing, but factor in roasted bananas and it’s swoon-inducing–plus, roasting lets you make banana bread even when your fruit isn’t overripe. Get our Roasted Banana-Nutella Quick Bread recipe.
Warm up your homemade Nutella just until it’s a little runny to make mixing it into the other ingredients easier–and feel free to swirl a little extra on top, or even slather it on the cut squares once they’ve cooled a bit. Get our Nutella Brownies recipe.
These stunning little pastries are infinitely easier than they appear. You just sandwich two sheets of store-bought puff pastry with Nutella and chopped hazelnuts, then cut them into strips and twist them into shape. Impressive and delicious, especially alongside a mug of Tipsy Hazelnut Hot Chocolate (or coffee). Get the recipe.
There’s no shortage of Nutella-stuffed bar cookie recipes out there, so find whatever spin suits you best, whether that’s Nutella Stuffed Oatmeal Cookie Bars, Nutella Stuffed Pumpkin Bars, Nutella Stuffed Salted Caramel Blondies, or something else. We’re going with these brown butter blondies for the wonderful additional layer of nuttiness and depth it brings to these sweet treats. Get the recipe.
There’s Nutella in the batter and the frosting for this moist chocolate cake, but if you think your homemade chocolate-hazelnut paste will be too grainy in the frosting, try pressing it through a fine-mesh sieve first, or pour over a rich glaze instead. Get the recipe.
Speaking of glaze, a sweet vanilla ribbon tops off these cinnamon rolls gloriously oozing with Nutella–which happen to be another shortcut recipe (crescent roll dough is the secret weapon), although you could certainly make everything from scratch. Get the recipe.
Buttery croissants make for an especially rich bread pudding, accented with creamy pockets of melted Nutella. This is a dead-simple, impossible-to-resist brunch or holiday breakfast option. Get the recipe.
We love s’mores, and we love pull-apart bread, so why not combine them into one fantastically gooey dessert? It could almost work as breakfast too–if Pop-Tarts can get away with it, so you can you, especially when you have homemade Nutella on your side. Get the recipe.
Related Video: How to Make Nutella French Toast Roll-Ups
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.