DIY Nutella: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Kosher

It’s a Summer Friday, so let’s kick back and relax with some foodblogging. Today, we’re going to make a DIY Nutella, but one that’s marginally better for you. I say marginally because I don’t want you thinking it’s some kind of health food. It’s not. For reference, here are the official product’s ingredients:

Ingredients: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor.

There’s more sugar and oil in Nutella than there are hazelnuts, which is odd, because it’s a hazelnut spread.

So, what will you need to make your own Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut spread?

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of hazelnuts, raw
  • 4 ounces of sugar, powdered (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1.4 ounces of cocoa powder, Dutch process (approximately 1/3 cup)
  • 1-4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil of your choice (olive, canola, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract

Equipment

  • A high-speed blender (I have a Blendtec, but any strong blender will do that can make nut butters)
  • An oven, toaster oven, or grill, if you bought raw hazelnuts
  • A silicone spatula
  • A storage container

Here’s the process. Put your hazelnuts in a pan or sheet and stick in the oven or grill:

Nutella Photos

Turn up the heat until the white meat turns brown, roughly the color of a latte. The skins by then will be a dark brown:

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Meanwhile, while the nuts are roasting, prepare your sugar.

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Instead of buying powdered confectioner’s sugar, I just put regular sugar in the blender until it’s powdered:

Nutella Photos

Next, put your hazelnuts in the blender and start grinding away at them. They’ll start out looking like this:

Nutella Photos

Blend until they start to get shiny and express a little oil. Then toss the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar in:

Nutella Photos

Scrape down the sides of the blender every so often and blend the heck out of it.

Nutella Photos

At a certain point, you’ll notice that it gets super dense and your blender struggles. Add a spoonful of vegetable oil and blend. Don’t add it all in at the same time, just a little bit until the mix loosens up and becomes shiny again.

When you’re done, scrape it out of the blender and put it in the container of your choice:

Nutella Photos

Chances are it will be hot, so stick it in a fridge, covered, to cool it off. Once cool, you can store it in your cabinet or pantry for a couple weeks. If you store it in the fridge, it’ll be hard as a rock, which may not be a big deal to you if you’re just going to eat it with a spoon anyway.

This Nutella-like recipe omits the soy and milk products as well as the palm oil. It’s therefore gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and as long as it’s made by a Jew or Muslim, kosher or halal respectively. If you buy all organic ingredients, then it’s organic, too. But most of all, it’s tasty. Enjoy!


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Unsolicited Review: Wacaco Minipresso GR

One of the questions I received recently was what my morning fuel of choice was. The answer is coffee, but the form it takes changes. We’ve got a massive Keurig machine at work, which does an able job of making coffee. It may not be the best quality, it may not have any cool factor whatsoever, but it’s included as a benefit.

That said, sometimes you want to step up your game a little. I recently saw the Wacaco Minipresso GR become available again, and decided to spring for one of the devices.

Disclosure: this is an entirely unsolicited review. I purchased this product out of pocket and the company has not reached out to me in any way.

The premise is pretty straightforward: a portable espresso machine. Of course, there’s absolutely no way a little handheld device is going to make the same quality of espresso as a countertop machine or the local coffee shop’s commercial machine. It’s delusional to even think it’ll come close.

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That said, it does pull a pretty solid cup of coffee that tastes like espresso. The device is simple. Add coffee grounds in one end, boiling water in the other end, seal, push the piston, and you get a single shot of espresso.

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When it says single shot, it means single shot. People expecting a full cup of coffee or a Starbucks-style massive cup are going to be sorely disappointed. If you compare the size of the output with an actual shot glass, it will make a full shot.

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A couple of notes worth pointing out. Start with boiling water. Not hot water, actual full rolling boil water. I take the hot water from the office water tap and stick it in the microwave to finish the job and get it to temperature. If you have the time, warm up the device by running hot tap water through it, because cold, it’s not going to pull as good a shot. (or give the first shot to a friend)

Second, pack and tamp. Loosely packed grounds are going to give you a weak shot. Pack it in. Obviously, that makes the piston harder to use – I have to use both hands – but it makes for a solid, strong shot.

If you want to add a little espresso to your day, give it some consideration. At $49, if it saves you from $4 espressos at Starbucks, it’ll only take a couple of weeks to pay for itself.


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The best things in life are difficult

How impressive would a 6 foot redwood tree be to a tourist in Sequoia National Park?

How marvelous would the skeleton of a chicken harvested last week be to an archaeologist?

How safe would you feel under the protection of someone who got a black belt in 3 months by mail order?

In the modern age, we lose sight of the fact that not everything in life is supposed to be bite-sized, convenient, easy, cheap, and immediate.

Giant sequoias live for thousands of years, assuming they survive things like drought and fire. Fossils take millions of years to form. Black belts can take as long as a decade to achieve, and in some dojo only 1 out of a thousand students will ever get one.

The best things in life can be difficult. You could even make the argument that the best things in life are supposed to be difficult by definition.

Here’s a recent example from the holiday weekend. I baked two sets of cookies. One was from a box kit, the hilariously named “Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookie Kit”.

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It was easy, just add water, wait a minute or two, roll out the dough, and start cranking out the cookies. Bake ’em, decorate ’em, and enjoy.

Everything went well except the last part, because the product tasted like cardboard.

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The second set of cookies was made from a dough that took half a day to make. It started with only raw ingredients, which required mixing, kneading, and sitting for several hours. The dough was a lot more tricky to work with, but the end result tasted like terrific, real cookies.

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There was significantly more effort involved. It was significantly more difficult than “just add water”. But the end result was incomparably better.

As you approach business, marketing, or just life in general, don’t turn away from a difficult path just because it’s difficult. Question whether it’s difficult for a good reason, and if the reason is legitimate, consider taking the harder path!


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