November 12, 2007
Ah, nutella. Elevating the humble hazelnut into a thing of beauty. Transforming boring lunchbox sandwiches into a serious bartering tool and popularity booster. Giving chocoholics everywhere yet another reason to nip o' wee bitty. Makes a pretty darn good dessert sauce too...which is what I'm going to talk to you about.
The other day I was given a pound cake as a gift. Fairly random, but always welcome. I was telling my Mother about it, who instantly told me to try a nutella chocolate sauce for the topping, because she really liked it and Oh by the way, can you have it ready for dessert at 7 with some Earl Grey? Ah, yes ma'am!
Nutella will seize up like other chocolate if you melt it first and then try to add milk or cream to it. The trick is to put the nutella and cream or milk together first and then heat it up, which you can do in the microwave by zapping it for 15-20 seconds at a time and then stirring. This is how you can easily melt chocolate chips as well, especially if your recipe calls for the chocolate to be combined with butter or cream.
Giada de Laurentiis in her book "Everyday Italian" recommends this ratio for nutella sauce: 1/3 c. nutella and 3 T. cream microwaved until melted for about 1 minute, stopping and stirring every 20 seconds. A fine sauce, a fine sauce indeed.
OK, for those of you who meticulously read labels like me and will not eat high fructose corn syrup in any shape or form, or other nasties, nutella stands up pretty well- considering it is a sweet chocolate concoction. It uses sugar, so bonus points for no artificial sweeteners, modified palm oil, so no trans fats- though I want to find out exactly what the "modified" means, cocoa, so no added chocolate fat, and skim milk which completes the nut protein and makes me happier when my little bunchkins want some "atella". Reduced minerals whey- pretty much what it says, produced by drying whey with some of the minerals physically separated out, according to ADPI- the American Dairy Products Institute by "precipitation, filtration, or dialysis" It has a whey, hence, dairy flavor, but I'll bet it's used because of cost factors, IE: it's cheaper than milk. Soy Lecithin, I've heard some debate on this one, concocted from soy, a common emulsifier in chocolate, and a good surfactant, which is the nerdy way to say it helps it spread well. Some extol it's virtues, some say it's horrible, I say research it yourself. The old way to get this sort of emulsification and spreadability was to use an egg yolk, which yes! you guessed it, contains naturally occurring lecithins. Granted, it's also very perishable, so I don't know how viable an option it is in commercial production of an unrefrigerated product. But, now, if you want to make homemade nutella yourself, you know what to use. They do get a ding on using vanillin- come on Ferrero USA! Real vanilla extract is the way to go! But all in all, I'll eat it. Most likely because I can't help myself!
So open that jar of chocolate hazelnut wonder and start cracking.