One of Italy’s greatest inventions is gianduja (pronounced “john-doo-yah”), the beloved combination of chocolate and hazelnut that we know as Nutella. It might surprise you to learn that homemade Nutella offers more flavor without the additives and preservatives that are in the store-bought version. The pure, nutty flavors of the hazelnuts come through stronger. So does the intense taste of rich, dark chocolate. All the steps in the recipe below might seem daunting at first, but I promise, making chocolate-hazelnut spread at home is so darn easy. A food processor or Vitamix will do all the work—you just have to sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
But there is one problem: To make homemade Nutella, you have to toast and skin a ton of hazelnuts, and the traditional "roast-and-rub" method is anything but easy. Your fingers will turn red from aggressively rubbing hot nuts with a kitchen towel, and you run the risk of having a million tiny flakes of hazelnut skin spill onto your kitchen floor. Thanks to Alice Medrich, you no longer have to fear peeling hazelnuts. Watch this video of her showing Julia Child how to easily skin hazelnuts. First, you blanch the hazelnuts in a pot of boiling water and baking soda, which loosens the skins. Then run the nuts under cold water and rub them between your fingers, and the skins will slide right off.
Fill a medium pot halfway with water and place on the stove over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, throw in 3 tablespoons baking soda and watch as it foams. (This part is super cool.) Drop the hazelnuts into the pot and boil for three minutes. The water will turn a very dark reddish-brown—don’t freak out. That’s totally normal.
Drain the nuts and quickly place them in a prepared ice bath. Run cold water over the nuts as you work, pinching peel and rubbing the the nuts between your fingers. You will be so surprised by how easily the peel falls off.
Dry the peeled nuts thoroughly with a kitchen towel and place on a baking sheet. Roast the nuts at 375°F for 15 minutes, shaking the sheet once for even roasting. The nuts may need a few additional minutes depending on how well, or not-so-well, you dry them. Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven once golden brown and aromatic. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Place the roasted hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few minutes until chopped. Reserve a few tablespoons of hazelnuts if you’d like to make a chunky spread.
That’s not the consistency you want (obviously), so continue processing in 1-minute intervals, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. After five minutes, you will have crumbs that look similar to almond meal. Again, that’s not the consistency you want either—keep blending.
The crumbs will start clumping together. Blend a bit longer. When it’s ready, it will change to a butter-like consistency and start forming into a ball.
Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove bowl from microwave and stir. Repeat twice, or until all the chocolate has melted. Add the chocolate to the bowl of the food processor and blend together with the hazelnut butter, until it becomes a thick paste.
Add maple syrup, salt, and almond oil, and process until smooth and glossy.
Your hazelnut spread is done once all the ingredients are mixed in. If you find it too thick, keep blending. Fold in reserved chopped hazelnuts (if any).
Place the chocolate-hazelnut spread in an airtight container, or a mason jar for gifting. It will last three weeks at room temperature and tastes incredible on a slice of toast. Other carb-loaded options (not that you need them), include waffles, crepes, and pancakes.