Vegan MoFo Day XIV : Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (with instructions for non-food processor people)


Chocolate Hazelnut spread on Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Scones

I’m going to come right out and say that I’m not a big fan of chocolate spreads in general as I tend to find them too rich.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t indulge every once in a while.  This is also not an everyday food by any means, and if you do like your chocolate spread every day, please go and find yourself a healthier version.  Ok?  Thanks.

Did you make your ganache?  Have you roasted your hazelnuts?  If you made the Peanut Butter Cup Cookies you probably had ganache left (unless you ate it all!).  This spread was born out of a new way to use my left-over ganache besides making truffles.  I like truffles, but seeing all those fresh-roasted hazelnuts got me thinking about that famous Italian spread and voila.  If you’ve already got roasted hazelnuts and some left-over ganache, this will take you 5 minutes, maybe less.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

160g/1 generous cup roasted hazelnuts (or any nut, really)

100g/3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp ganache

15 to 30ml/1 to 2 tbsp vegetable oil

If your ganache is in the fridge, you’ll need to warm it up either in the microwave or in a double boiler.  While you’re doing that put your hazelnuts in your food processor with an S blade and grind them up as much as you would like.  Personally, I like a little crunch so I left them closer to a coarse meal than powder.  Add some of the oil to help things along, and add more if necessary (this will depend on the oil-content of your nuts).

like so

Now, fold this into the chocolate ganache.  In a sterilised, air-tight jar this will last a few weeks in the cupboard.  In an air-tight container in the fridge it’ll last even longer.  It hardens up when it’s cold, but a warms-up just beautifully.

But wait!  I don’t have a food processor!  (Or I’m lazy and don’t want to roast nuts and wash my food processor). No panic.  Just use your favourite nut butter (hazelnut?).   You can add the same amount of nut butter to the ganache when you’re warming it up, just stir well.  Done!  Wasn’t that easy?

This obviously lends itself to many add-ins and subs, so play with it!  Pistachios are a personal favourite, but don’t let me influence you.

Vegan MoFo Day VII : Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Scones

It’s the weekend!  Take a few minutes to make yourself some fragrant, fabulous and fibre-filled scones!  Now that you have your pumpkin and your roasted hazelnuts, nothing is stopping you!

Pumpkin Hazelnut Scones

This recipes makes six jumbo or 12 regular drop scones

Pre-heat your oven to 200°c or 400°f and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or silplat.

3.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup fresh ground, roasted hazelnuts

1 cup pumpkin purée

2/3 cups soy milk

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

1/4 cup sugar (we don’t like it very sweet, so add more if you do!)

4 tbsp neutral vegetable oil

First a word about the ground hazelnuts : don’t feel like you must grind them into hazelnut butter (though that would be tasty!).  Personally, I like a little crunch, so when grinding I was sure to not grind it too fine.  As you like it, kids!

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all other ingredients except the hazelnuts.  When well mixed, add the hazelnuts and stir.  Now carefully add the wet to dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Try not to over-mix or you’ll get tough scones.  It’s ok if there are a few floury patches – don’t worry! Be happy, you’re going to have scones!

These are drop scones – my personal favourite – a lovely compromise between a biscuit-y texture and sconey taste.  Decide if you want to make 12 normal scones or 6 jumbo scones, and drop the batter accordingly.

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, until they are slightly browned on the bottom.

Enjoy!

You can add a little ganache and some chopped hazelnuts to take this from breakfast to sexy brunch or even dessert!

Vegan MoFo VI : Roast Your Hazelnuts! (You’ll be glad you did.)

The question :

“Why should I roast my own hazelnuts (or almonds, walnuts, pecans, et. all.) when I can buy  them roasted at the store?

The answer :

Most seasoned home chefs and bakers know the importance of buying fresh nuts and seeds.  They keep them in air-tight containers in the fridge to prevent their natural oils from going rancid.  However, when I first began experimenting in the kitchen I didn’t get it.  I, like so many other newbies, though that nuts couldn’t really spoil or go bad.  At least it didn’t occur to me.

When I saw pre-packaged sachets of ground, roasted nuts at the market I thought it was just the way of the world.  The fact that these nuts were often partially dehydrated in order to eliminate some of their natural oils (to inhibit spoilage) or that pre-ground nuts were often made from the less fresh, often slightly damaged of the harvest – well, I didn’t know it, or think of it.  Not to mention the huge amount of time it would take that little sachet to make it to my kitchen after spending who knows how long on the grocery shelf, storage rooms, in-transit, and in the packing facility.

The proof of the pudding is often in my mouth.

Let me explain.

When I first began baking, I was using pre-roasted and pre-ground nuts from the grocery shelves.  The cakes, cookies and breads were good (if I do say so myself), but it wasn’t until I read one passionate baker’s plea that everyone roast their own nuts*  that I decided to give roasting my own a try.

The difference, as most of you know, was more than remarkable.  Dare I even say, incredible? Yes, I think I will.  Roasting your own nuts and seeds is so easy (and will make your kitchen smell so amazing!) that you must give it a try at least once.

Tomorrow’s recipe will require some ground, roasted hazelnuts, so let’s get roasting, shall we? Yes! Let’s!

You’re going to need one cup of ground, roasted hazelnuts for tomorrow’s recipe, but go ahead and roast more – you can use them in pasta (roasted hazelnuts are a staple in Italian cooking), in grain salads (I use them often in barley or quinoa salads) or by the handful (I admit to indulging while preparing this post!).

Roasted hazelnuts (or most any nut)

Heat your oven to 350°f or 180°c

Spread your hazelnuts out on a baking sheet .

Put them into the oven and check them after about 5 to 7 minutes.  Don’t burn yourself now!  Depending on the freshness and oil content of your nuts, they will need to go for about 5 to 15 minutes.  I’ve found personally that the nuts I find need about 11 minutes.  You will get a feel for this so please don’t be discouraged or intimidated – it’s ok if they are not super-roasted, so err on the side of under-done, rather than burnt.

Pour the nuts onto a kitchen towel (I usually lay the towel on a shallow baking dish or bowl to keep them from rolling all over the place).  Wrap them up, let them sit a minute or two, then shake ‘em!  Wrap the towel around them so it makes a sack and shake it for about a minute, rubbing the nuts against themselves.  This will get the skins off for the most part.  Some of the skins will stay on, and it’s ok, so please don’t worry.  It’s really ok.  When cooled, pour them into a glass jar and place in the refrigerator.  Ta-da!  You roasted your hazelnuts!  Aren’t you proud?

Come back tomorrow for a weekend-appropriate recipe to put those hazelnuts to good use!

* said passionate person (a total stranger) actually saw me reaching for roasted, ground  nuts at the grocery and scolded me.  Told me to roast them myself.  Thanks, stranger.