Awaken Your Inner-Nutella

“Whoever invented this has a straight shot into heaven for making so many people happy.” Those are words from my teenaged son as he sat with a spoon and a jar of Nutella. The “this” was in fact, the Nutella.

Nutella and the Attainment of Heaven

Let’s dissect this. Clearly my son has made the connection between good taste and happiness. I recognize the argument that his bliss should be derived from a forkful of arugula but alas, he’s 15 and no significant amount of local food philosophy has yet to penetrate his adolescent taste buds. Nutella makes him happy. He’s also made the connection that it’s the inventor and creative mind behind Nutella that is responsible for the feeling.  Inventor > Nutella > Happiness therefore, Inventor > Happiness. I’m an optomist. I see possibilities here for farmer appreciation in the future.

The next part is more complex. Ability to create happiness in others > Heaven – no stopping at the gates, no inquiries from Peter and the boys. Just jump right on in and claim your celestial abode. I turn to the world’s great religions:

  • From Anne Frank, a Jew: “Whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery.”
  • From the Hindu “if you choose “Being Happy and making others Happy” as the primary purpose of life, it is a good starting point. The question of what comes first – will go away when the desire is to be always happy – not in the material sense but through inner awakening.”
  • A lesson in Islam: “there is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.”
  • Christianity, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”

Clearly there is alignment around making others happy and while it may not be so clear that this will provide us with a blessed after-life, I’m thinking my teenager can use a good insurance policy.

With the help of David Lebovitz, we struck out to create our own version of chocolate-hazelnut bliss.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Yield: Two jars (about 1 cup each)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 7/8 cup powdered milk
  • 3 Tbs mild-flavored honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (use one that’s at least 30% cacao solids)

1. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet, keeping the almonds separate. Toast the nuts at 350ºF, stirring a few times, for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned.

Roasting Hazelnuts

2. While they are roasting, warm the whole milk and powdered milk in a small saucepan with the honey and salt just until it starts to boil. Remove from heat.

3. In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, or in a microwave oven, melt the chocolates together until smooth.

4. Once the nuts are well-toasted, remove them from oven and use a spatula to place the warm hazelnuts in a clean tea towel, then fold them inside the towel and rub them vigorously to remove any loose skins. They don’t need to be pristine; just try to get as much off as possible.

These didn't grind quite as fine as I would've liked.

5. In a food processor, grind the warm hazelnuts and almonds until they’re as fine as possible. This may not end up completely smooth.

6. Add the melted chocolate and continue to process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, as necessary.

I think next time I'd use only dark chocolate

7. Once the mixture is smooth, add the warm milk mixture and process until everything is well-combined.

One last whirl and it's ready for the jars

(The original instructions here said to strain the paste, which I didn’t do because I don’t mind the little bits of toasted nuts, but you can.)

9. Transfer the mixture into jars and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heavenly!

Storage: The Chocolate-Hazelnut Paste will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Enjoy and let me know your own philosophy on the connections between food and happiness and heaven.

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62 Comments

  1. Love Nutella! Love your insight on the religions. I’m Muslim and didn’t know the Islam quote so now I learned something new about happiness and Islam. Beautiful, deep, delicious post! :)

    Reply
  2. I like the logic!

    I’m missing the part where your son says home made Nutella is way better. Well? I was just wishing I had some by the way….

    Reply
    • It’s a bit grainy and quite sweet but I think every bit as good. My youngest says it’s better. Middle says too sweet and I’m waiting on the big guy.

      Reply
  3. wow . . . move over Nutella. :) You are amazing. And your version looks so good. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. this sounds delicious – and for a December MUST MAKE! Have a happy day :)

    Reply
  5. Beautiful post Tammy. Or may I rephrase: A delicious post. I love how you organically connect two completely different things into a subject through a common strain that otherwise we would not really think about. Happiness to others from a teen bliss-ing on Nutella! Tammy, you are very gifted.

    And I thoroughly believe that there is no other happiness than making others happy, and that the only place you’d ever find true happiness is within. If you are happy from within, even the smallest of things can amuse you, spread cheer and joy to people around you.

    What a thoughtful post.

    Reply
    • Thank you Rukmini. I agree with you and thought that my favorite reading was from the Hindu “The question of what comes first – will go away when the desire is to be always happy – not in the material sense but through inner awakening”

      Reply
  6. Lovely. I’m a Nutella lover, as well, although I don’t have it very often these days. I introduced my youngest nephew to Nutella some years ago and he’s a major fan. Davis is also 15 (16 in a few days) so maybe teen boys are onto something.

    Agree with the previous commenter, Rukmini Roy, that you have a beautiful way of connecting the dots between seemingly disparate topics.

    I hope to try your hazelnut spread during the holidays, when I can share it with others.

    Reply
  7. I’m a convert to Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter from Whole Foods. It’s pricey, but a spoonful here and there is heavenly.

    Reply
  8. authorjaneward

     /  October 17, 2011

    In a crazy coincidence, I’ve been looking for homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread recipes so I could make some for giving at the holidays along with my breads. Thanks for making my research just that much easier!

    Reply
    • Jane, there are many other much simply recipes out there. I just loved David’s post and wanted to try that one. I might leave out the honey in the future.

      Reply
  9. Ahh, Nutella. I can remember first trying that back in the 80s when the label was mostly in Italian, and like your son fell in love with it immediately. I spread it on all kinds of things! In the years since then I’ve gone vegan so enjoyed a Belgian version called Chocoreale for a while, and more recently the brand Justin’s mentioned in comments above. Now there are vegan recipes online so you can make your own dairy-free version at home. Here’s one version: http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2010/06/25/the-nutty-professor-in-two-parts/ and here’s another recipe for vegan Nutella ice cream: http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2010/09/23/last-gasp-of-summer-the-most-decadent-ice-cream-you-will-ever-eat-no-ice-cream-maker-required/

    As you mention above local food philosophy should be taken into account, Although chocolate and hazelnuts go really well together, chocolate and almonds do too, and we should be able to make some version of this with Arizona-grown almonds! The problem remains though of the chocolate (usually imported from Africa!). It might be possible to use Arizona-grown carob, but if you though Arizona-grown almonds were tough to find try finding Arizona-grown carob. That reality makes me want to plant a tree immediately, but… not anywhere near my house; I hear the trees have a pretty pungent odor. In decades to come though as chocolate becomes scarce, carob may become chocolate’s “methadone,” and people who weren’t so keen may learn to appreciate it for what it is – not dislike it for what it’s not.

    Reply
    • I actually went to a carob milling put on by Slow Food a while back. I have some in the pantry although I’m not certain how long it lasts.

      Reply
  10. Bonnie

     /  October 17, 2011

    Michael loves Nutella too. He discovered it in 8th grade when he created his Holy Crepe business for school.

    I think it makes perfect sense that the pearly gates of heaven would open up automatically for those who make others happy. Good thinking!

    Thanks for your post Tammy.

    Reply
  11. Thanks, Tammy. Loved the quotes. I’ve got another for you:

    He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh. ~ The Koran

    Reply
  12. Tiffany Anderson

     /  October 17, 2011

    Nutella has always reminded me of the “other ticket to heaven” for whoever created Dulce de Leche. I grew up with this chocolate/caramel sweet on toast, in cakes, swirled in ice cream and filled in most any pastry from Argentina. To the point that when visiting Argentina, Ken claimed dulce-de-leche overload!

    Just as David Lebovitz provided homemade nutella, see here for more on how he makes its also sweet counterpart, dulce de leche… http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/11/dulce-de-lechec/

    Also, see how Lori Lange can have you making a homemade version of the most typical argentine dessert, “alfajore” http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/11/dulce-de-lechec/

    Reply
  13. I have loved many of your posts, Tammy, but this is my favourite yet. Making others happy is they key, I feel sure, and now I have a recipe to help me do it :-D Love your philosophy, love the reasoning, love everything about this.

    Reply
    • Dear Kate,
      You are a spectacular writer and therefore, any compliment like this from you I am going to scoop up and treasure!

      Reply
  14. This looks very good! :D I make cocoa almond butter for one of my friends regularly, and she loves it as well. :) It’s just almonds, almond oil, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Hazelnuts will work, too, I think.

    Reply
  15. i have a jar-a-week Nutella habit. i may have to try this recipe over the holidays when i have people to share it with… otherwise, i might just bathe in it!

    Reply
  16. I prefer peanut butter. though I have a friend who eats them both together

    Reply
  17. I had no idea how dangerous visiting your post today would be, Tammy! A recipe that includes hazelnuts and chocolate…sounds like manna from heaven! Nice to see a pic of your son enjoying his spoonful of life.

    Reply
  18. I’m still shocked to know the stats that Nutella has more grams of sugar than chocolate cake frosting what???
    Choc hazelnut does not last long in my house and I’m sure it wont in yours either! x

    Reply
  19. There is an enormous connection between food and happiness. My wife and I talk about this all the time – we never get tired of good food; the aromas, the textures, the tastes, the fellowship of eating and sharing, the joy or creating, the surprise of raw ingredients, I could go on… :)

    So, my point is… I think there will be good food in the afterlife!

    PS our teens are also huge Nutella fans.

    Reply
    • Yes, I could also go on about the supreme qualities of food and glad to know that an after-life pundit like yourself thinks we’ll have ample supply.

      Reply
  20. Yes, Nutella is truly a wonderful creation! I’ve been known to sit with jar, spoon in hand. In fact, I have an unopened jar in the pantry and hestiate to pull back the foil seal, knowing that once I do, all bets are off! As much as I like to cook, making my own Nutella would be too much temptation!

    Reply
  21. Oh yes, I will be making this and it will make me happy!

    Reply
  22. I just had a nutella with honey sandwich for lunch, and happened to read your post right after!

    Reply
  23. My single attempt at homemade nutella was not that successful… and I now see that I should have gone with actual chocolate rather than cocoa powder!

    Reply
    • This is really delicious. Not as creamy as the store brand but every bit as tasty and I know exactly what went into it.

      Reply
  24. I prefer the not-as-creamy results that you’ve achieved, and reminds me that a jar of this would make a nice addition in food gift basket.
    I’ve read somewhere that food is our first love, the simple, primal bliss it can trigger must indeed feel heavenly.

    Reply
    • If you like these flavors, then this recipe rocks. My three jars from one week ago are empty.

      Reply
  25. I love this post despite the fact that I really, really don’t like Nutella. Still, the logic appeals to me. Follow the happy back to the inventor (poet, artist, farmer). Excellent philosophy.

    On a side note, we grew our own arugula this year, and I think my love and near constant use of it, broke The Boy’s will. He’s a fan. Now I just have to remind him to love the farmer. ;)

    Reply
    • Now you are talking about one of my all time favorite foods. Say it slowly: A-ru-gu-la. Yes, that is bliss.

      Reply
  26. You asked about the connection between food, happiness and heaven. One of the ancient Vedic texts called Chandogya Upanishad has the following verse:

    “aahara-shuddhau sattva-shuddhih sattva-shuddhau dhruva smrtih smrti-lambhe sarvagranthinam vipramokshah”

    Translation: When the food is pure, one’s personal nature becomes purified; when the personality is purified, the memory / consciousness become purified; with purified memory and consciousness, the soul is released from its bondage (attaining nirvana or heaven).

    Reply
  27. Nutella contains palm oil which is actually being harvested unsustainable in Indonesia and Malaysia contributing to rain forest destruction. Here is a link to TreeHugger with information on the Green washing campaign.

    http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/happy-nutella-day-now-what-is-it.html

    Reply
  28. Back and playing catchup, after a frustrating long absence.

    Great thought provoking post. I just finished an interesting book, The Cost of Everything. they even had a chapter on the cost of happiness. It seems to me it would be a book you would enjoy. I specifically liked the Islam expression you offered us.

    Reply
  29. Wow!! What an interesting connection you got here. Am impressed the way to dissect the simple spontaneous expression of your son, and lay bare the primordial veins of life. When life becomes a philosophy, we breathe religiously. But, I was not aware that when food is a delicacy, it becomes a philosophy:)

    And in making others happy heaven lies nowhere far, but without a distant within each one of us. Good job. Your name keep reminding me of the famous McLeod Daughters series;)

    Reply
    • Thanks for the thoughts. I like the way you boil it down to pure energy. I checked out your poetry too. Great stuff.

      Reply
  30. Joan Z

     /  January 20, 2012

    Once I was “stuck” in Paris for 5 days by myself due to a transit strike. Nutella Crepes from the street vendor were a daily staple. Aw the days of wandering streets and thinking.

    My daughter loves Nutella. For her 16th birthday, last July, her friends made her Nutellen. Recently, I passed this post on to her. You have a new fan. :)

    Reply
  31. Awesome Joan and what a great idea – Nutellen! This is easy to make and keeps the scarce resources like palm oil out of it.

    Reply
  32. What a scrumptious blog :) and a very happy page indeed Tammy

    Reply

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