Yesterday I did my one and only day of Christmas shopping, for the one and only item I’m going to buy this year. It’s already wrapped and stashed away for our annual expats holiday family dinner, which includes an increasingly ruthless game of White Elephant.
I daresay the little gift I got this year will pale in comparison to the gigantic rice crispy cube I contributed last year, which is arguably the best White Elephant gift of all time – except for the time my sister found her engagement ring in a (heavily rigged) game.
So that’s it. One shopping excursion, in and out in 15 minutes. Paul and I stopped giving each other Christmas presents about five years ago, choosing instead to put our effort and money towards experiences together. Even when we do spend Christmas with our families (this year we’re trading the dark and cold Swedish winter for sun and surf in Bali) over the years there has been less and less emphasis on gifts. It’s become more about presence than about presents, and that suits me just fine.
Don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts! Especially gifts that I’ve made myself and really come from the heart. This year’s homemade offering is this lovely chocolate hazelnut spread. It’s kinda like Nutella, except it’s WAY better than Nutella. And since you make it yourself, you know exactly what you’re eating.
Please don’t let the looks of this intimidate you. It comes together really quickly, and your food processor does most of the heavy lifting. The most arduous part of all is skinning the hazelnuts, which is a task I detest but one that is totally worth it to get *most* of the bitter skins away from the hazelnuts. If you can find pre-skinned hazelnuts you’re a lucky thing.
This chocolate hazelnut spread is totally vegan, naturally sweetened with dates, and can easily be made raw if that’s your thing – I do love the flavour of toasted hazelnuts, though, so mine is definitely not raw.
If you go into this expecting the end result to taste like Nutella, well, it doesn’t. It tastes BETTER than Nutella. It tastes like real things you can actually identify, like chocolate and coconut and dates and hazelnuts. I finished mine with a touch of smoked salt, which adds something special but isn’t necessary if you don’t have it.
You’ve still got plenty of time to make this chocolate hazelnut spread for gifts this holiday season. All you need is some cute jars, a food processor, and about 30 minutes. Seriously, it’s that easy.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a roundup of inspiring home made and edible gifts for y’all. In the meantime, get skinning those hazelnuts!
Hazelnuts are high in protein contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats. They’re a great source of fiber, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. Dates are a great source of natural sweetness, are rich in antioxidant polyphenols, dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. And cocoa is antioxidant rich, with a flavanoid content that appears to be helpful in protecting blood vessel linings and thus preventing high blood pressure.
This chocolate hazelnut spread is full of wholesome whole foods, but make no mistake, it’s still an indulgent treat!
Four years ago: Poached Eggs on Crispy Polenta
- 400g (2½ cups) raw hazelnuts
- 20 fresh medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup / 125 ml melted coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
- ½ cup / 125 ml almond milk (or another nut milk, or water)
- ½ to 1 tsp flaky sea salt (smoked salt is amazing if you have it)
- Preheat your oven to 150°C / 300°F.
- Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place them int the pre-heated oven, and toast for 20-30 minutes, until fragrant and the skin is starting to crack. Watch them carefully to avoid from burning.
- Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Place the nuts in an old kitchen towel, and rub to remove the skin. You may need to do this in batches, or stop and pick out those that are skinned and then do a second round with those that aren't. I never get all of the skins off, and I never stress about it.
- Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and process until a completely smooth hazelnut butter forms and the oil from the nuts has released - you may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times. How long this takes will depend on how powerful your food processor is, and how old your nuts are. In my rickety little food processor I had hazelnut butter in about five minutes.
- Melt the coconut oil on low heat (or you can use the microwave).
- Mash the dates with a fork to break them down into a sticky paste.
- Add the melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, mashed dates, salt, and almond milk to the nut butter, and process until smooth.
- Transfer the chocolate hazelnut spread into clean airtight glass jars.
-Recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.