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 V: Easy Ganache and “High Moral Standards”

I know what you new vegans are thinking, “Ganache?  Authentic ganache cannot be vegan!”.  Maybe you weren’t thinking that, but believe me, when discussing “authentic” ganache with certified pastry chefs (or people who just think they are pastry chefs) the inevitable questions about the compatibility of veganism and pâtisseries or pastries, always rear their ugly head.  When I mention that I don’t use dairy crème liquide or even cow’s milk, accusations and name-calling usually ensue.  Seriously.

I realise that in France we have a certain fierté or pride, concerning our pastries and our culinary traditions.  This is understandable, given the international reputation our sweet treats have.  The general belief is that in order to cultivate  the authentic “frenchness” of our recipes, tradition must be respected.  Unfortunately, the cult of authenticity often attracts blind followers.

What does “authentic” mean to you?  For some people, it’s about following the recipe by the book and any derivation is heresy or blasphemy or even worse (is there worse?).  For me it’s about taste.  Taste, and ethics.  I don’t think it’s ethical to “grow” animals (sentient beings)  like plant crops (non-sentient beings), impregnate the females (rape anyone?) then pry their babies from them in order to sell their milk.  For me as a woman, a feminist and a mother, that is wrong on so many levels.

But you can have your ganache and your “high moral standards”* people!  Granted vegan ganache can hardly be called heathful, it’s at least less deleterious to the cows than its omni counterpart. Ganache is not an “everyday food” people – be sensible, please.

You’re going to need to have some ganache on had for some soon-to-be-posted recipes, so it’s only fitting I share my go-to recipe with you.  Try it, or make your own favourite ganache.  Don’t eat it all.  Trust me, you’ll need it!

Get your  soy milk and agave ready!

Easy Chocolate Ganache

200g (about 7 oz) dark chocolate, broken or cut into smallish chunks

1/2 non-dairy milk (I use soy)

1/4 cup agave syrup

Using a small sauce pan, heat the soy milk to boiling (don’t let it get crazy boiling or you’ll get a layer of soy-skin on top).  Turn off heat and add the chocolate chunks.  You can either leave this set for a few minutes (maybe wash a few dishes?), then stir, or just stir right away.  You’ll have a little more stirring to do if you decide not do let it set, but it’s ok.  When the chocolate is completely melted, add the agave and stir until combined.  You can either use immediately, or let it cool.  This hardens up to a nice fudge-like consistency if left at room temperature long enough, or refrigerated.

Don’t eat it all!  You’re going to need it for the next few recipes…

* “high moral standards” – that’s one of the comments, in an ironic, snarky tone, I’ve heard when sharing my ganache recipe.  Personally, I take it as a compliment!