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