homemade “nutella”

The baking countdown is on! Each Christmas I make scores of homemade goodies, some to share with family and friends and some just to enjoy here at home. In the past I’ve made pounds of Fudge, gallons of Chocolate Sauce, mountains of Crack and oodles of Chocolate + Nutella Shortbread cookies. And when time has allowed I’ve also been known to whip up a batch of biscotti or simple sugar cookies that the kids help decorate. Now that I’m a working girl it’s going to be a bit tricky to pull-off this amount of goodies, but I still plan to try. I intend to make a few batches of crack (it wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without it), I’ve decided to give a Swedish spice cookie a whirl and just to take this years chocolate shortbread sandwich cookies a smidge over the top—I’ve decided to make them with homemade Nutella.

Nutella is one of those foods that people either just don’t get or love to the point of obsession. I have a girlfriend who keeps a jar in her office desk drawer, for when the need strikes. I on the other hand am not particularly a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flavors of dark chocolate and hazelnut together but there’s something about the viscosity of the jarred stuff that bothers me, it reminds me of silly putty. Anyway it turns out that homemade Nutella is pretty easy to make and the results are truly outstanding. It’s not as smooth and gloppy as the Nutella you’re familiar with (which is fine by me) and not surprisingly, it’s way tastier than the other stuff. Delish on toast. Fantastic sandwiched between cookies. Outrageous right off the spoon.

So far and with complete confidence we can say that homemade Nutella is absolutely here to stay.

Homemade “Nutella”
Enjoy this spread just as you would the jarred stuff, which would include right off the spoon.

nutella cookies

1 1/2 cups skinned hazelnuts
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
8 oz. quality semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. salted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp. real vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts out in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet and toast them until they are a golden brown, stirring frequently. Pour them into the bowl of a food processor and allow to cool. Once cool, add the sugar and process to a smooth, buttery paste.
  2. Melt the chocolate over medium-low heat in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring often. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the cream, butter and vanilla then add in the hazelnut paste and stir until fully blended.
  3. Pour your nutella into a glass jar (it will thicken as it cools). Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using.

*adapted from canal house cooks

Chocolate + Nutella Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
These cookies are amazing on their own, but add some homemade Nutella and you’ve got one decadent cookie!

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 small jar homemade Nutella (or store-bought)

  1. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix confectioners’ sugar, butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt on medium low speed until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour one cup at a time. Continue to mix on low until the flour is completely integrated.
  2. Form the dough into a ball (it will be a bit dry) and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Take the dough out and sandwich it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll it to 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes and place on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough but cut the centers out of the second batch, making sure you have equal numbers of tops and bottoms. (If dough becomes too soft pop it back in fridge for a few minutes to firm up.) Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
  6. Once cookies have fully cooled spread a thin layer of Nutella onto each of the cookie bottoms. Sandwich together with the top cookies and serve or chill for a later date.

*adapted from serious eats

Simple Sugar Cookies
This is standard sugar cookie recipe, perfect for decorating with icing or using as a vehicle for your homemade nutella.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

  1. Cream together the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; gradually add to sugar mixture. Knead the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap with saran wrap and chill for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Cut the dough in half and on well floured surface, roll the dough into a circle roughly 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned at edges. Allow to fully cool before decorating.

*adapted from domino sugar

ya can’t beet a donut

Four weeks ago I set out to convert each and every one of you into whole-hearted beet and blue cheese lovers. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, but I have learned a few things along the way. 1. Beets can inadvertently dye a white t-shirt the most lovely shade of purple. 2. Don’t buy cheap pre-crumbled blue cheese, it tastes nothing like a good quality wedge. Spend the extra few dollars, it will make a huge difference. 3. A sizable consumption of beets will turn your urine red. Don’t panic! Think back on what you’ve eaten recently, then laugh at yourself for being such a nervous nelly. 4. Stop throwing out those beet greens. Eat them raw, sauté them with some garlic, throw them in some soup. They’re full of nutrients and deserve a little more love and a little less composting!

As the culminating recipe for my of my month of b & b I wanted to give you something truly unexpected, a recipe that you never saw coming and which perhaps makes you question my sanity. Are you ready? Is the anticipation killing you? Okay here goes. Here is my families all time favorite way to eat beets… as the secret ingredient in chocolate donuts! Sounds crazy right? It’s not. Well okay it’s kinda, but no matter, it’s a fantastic way to get a boost of natural sweetness, give your chocolate goodie a deeper more intense color and enjoy all the health benefits of beets without actually having to commit to eating a beet. I know some of you reading this are positive that you would be able to taste the mere cup and a half of puréed beet in this recipe, and for that very reason you would never consider doing something so unthinkable to a perfectly lovely chocolate donut. Here’s what I have to say to all you sceptical naysayers… change is good, embrace it. I promise that no matter how hard you try to detect the taste of beet in these babies, you won’t be able to. Seriously, once they’ve cooled and been glazed it’s impossible to taste anything but deliciousness.

And it is with that dear reader that I wrap up my month of beets and blues. But never fear, this won’t be the last time I feature a recipe with these ingredients. (I still have a few little gems up my sleeve just waiting for the right reveal.) I hope you enjoyed my little food exploration and discovered a few things about these two foods so near and dear to my heart that a month ago you never knew— including perhaps that you actually love them as much as I do.

Chocolate Cake Donuts (with beets) & Chocolate Ganache
If you don’t tell people about the secret ingredient they’ll never guess it’s anything but good ol’ chocolate glazed donut.

beet donut lilly*2

1 1/2 cups puréed beets (about 3 medium)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. espresso powder
3 tsp. dark cocoa powder
chocolate ganache glaze (recipe below)

  1. To make beet puree: Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim the stems off the beets and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap them tightly, place the bundle in a pie tin and roast for an hour or until the tines of a fork easily pierce the beet. Allow them to cool so that you can handle them, peel off the skins, dice them and place the beets in a food processor. Process until a smooth puree forms and set aside. (I often roast and puree my beets a day or two in advance.)
  2. Grease or spray two donut pans and set aside.* In a mixing bowl, cream together 3/4 cup (1 stick plus 4 tbsp.) butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides after each addition.
  3. In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt together the chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) butter, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool slightly before adding the melted chocolate, beets and vanilla to the creamed butter mixture. Mix well, the batter will appear a bit separated but not to worry.
  4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder and cocoa. In two separate batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Fill each doughnut form half way with batter. (I find it’s easiest to pour the batter into a ziplock bag, snip off one corner and pipe it into the pan.) Bake in a 375°F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they spring back when touched.
  6. When the donuts are finished baking carefully transfer them to racks and allow them to fully cool, they are VERY crumbly while they are still warm.
  7. Glaze the tops of each donut with the ganache either by dunking or spreading it on. The ganache will firm up as it sets, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying one right away!

*I have also used this recipe to make a bundt cake which I then drizzled with the ganache. Bake in a well-greased and floured bundt pan for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

*adapted from straight from the farm

Chocolate Ganache
It doesn’t get much easier or tastier than this three ingredient ganache.

4 oz. bar semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add in the vanilla, stir and let cool slightly then glaze away!