After nearly 20 years in big Tokyo I was feeling burned out in my not-so-successful "career" in the service industry, knocking on several after a chance discovery of cheap old farmhouses we set out towards the countryside - but still close enough for my wife to further pursue her working live, commuting by Shinkansen while I would take care of the house and kids and build my own little cafe at home...
Our first bump came when we realized that the bank wasn't willing to give a loan for an old rundown house on some worthless property in the "Hinterland". So, we changed plans and will be building a new house. We already bought the plot last year, with about 400 square meters size, and I have started the vegetable garden beforehand, next project will be the garden house.

13 November, 2011

Homemade Hazelnuts spread

 When I started this blog I had a multi-themed style in mind and cooking was supposed to be one of it. Alas, the crammed kitchen in our apartment never seemed to be clean enough for taking pictures in it. But after some serious furniture moving and rearranging on the shelf and inside the drawers I feel much more comfortable to do more of these, so enjoy.

Like the vast majority of German people I grew up with "Nutella", the famous creamy hazelnuts-spread or some cheaper imitation. And like probably many Germans I always thought there is something good in it...It was only less than a year ago that American-Pastry-chef turned Parisian book-writer  David Lebovitz had an article on Facebook describing the reality, it's high sugar content and the psychological usage of Football players and whole-grain bread in the commercials, opening my eyes to see through the farce. He also put forward a recipe, which I changed a bit to my liking, and which should only be seen as a basic "mixture", an invitation for you to try and create your very own Nuts'n Chocolate spread.

My basic recipe

Hazelnuts 100 g
Milk 100 ml

Cocoa powder 15ml
Honey 80 g
Bitter Chocolate 60 g
Butter 50 g

Coarsely chop the nuts and roast them in a pan without oil until they are browned. You can tell by the nice smell that's starting to come out when they start to brown.

Put the roasted nuts in your mixer and blend until very small, occasionally moving the parts in the corners towards the middle.

Meanwhile heat the milk in a medium pot, slowly adding the other ingredients until they are all molten.
Pour this cream into the mixer and blend again until you have a smooth, rather liquid, cream.
Fill the cream into clean jars or other containers of your choice, put in the fridge and let cool for at least 6 hours. This cream is supposed to melt in your mouth, or on your freshly baked toast, but it might be the case that because of a different chocolate or butter-substitute it won't set enough. In this case just mix in a bid more melted chocolate or butter and cool it down again.

Variations, where the Fun starts
Nuts: Try walnuts for less sweetness, almonds for more, peanuts, cashew nuts, different blends, etc whatever you like or have at hand.
Roasting: Same as with caramel, the darker the nuts, the more bitter the taste gets. So, if you like your caramel slightly burned, you might try the same with nuts.
Sweetness: You can use sugar only or a blend of both but be aware that the creaminess might change.
Chocolate: As with nuts, use what you like, dark and bitter, or milk chocolate, or even white.
Spices: My favorite is cinnamon and a bit of clove, or use your flavor syrup. For a "special" taste, add some liqueur into the milk, but beware that the alcohol might not totally evaporate if you don't heat the milk until nearly overflowing.

The spread consists of solid and liquid ingredients that together give the creaminess. Changing the amount of one of these might thus result in a not so perfect cream at the first try, so be sure to have some chocolate or butter at hand if it is to liquid after a few hours in the fridge.

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