Working with youth has a lot of perks (and a lot of challenges). One of these perks is my schedule. As the program manager of an after school music education program, I generally work from 11am – 8pm. This may seem like the WORST for some people, but for me it has been great. Fresh out of college I had a 9-5:30 job and it just didn’t fly with me. I hated waking up and going to work knowing that by the time I was out of the office I would be too tired to do anything. As a morning person, it is awesome to have a few hours before work to whip up something fun in the kitchen, go on a walk, do yoga, or just relax and putz around the house.
Another perk? Holiday gifts! I’m not a teacher, but I work directly with the kids and their parents every single day. So when the holidays rolled around, I was so touched to be given gifts from the students and families. I received lots of Starbucks cards, a free pass to a nearby Korean spa (the besssttt), and LOTS of Ferrero Rocher chocolates…you know the ones I’m talking about – hazelnut in the center, surrounded by chocolate hazelnut cream, covered in a thin wafer thing and then another layer of milk chocolate and hazelnut pieces…AKA a little drop of heaven and an ode to my favorite combination ever – hazelnut and chocolate.
When I was growing up, Nutella was not a thing we had in the house. It may not even have been popular in the US at that time. But when I was 6, we moved to Germany and I was introduced to this delightful spread. It has never overtaken Peanut Butter – my #1 forever – but this delicious hazelnut chocolate spread is a definite favorite. In recent years I haven’t bought it because 1) I go through it too fast that it’s dangerous and 2) The amount of sugar/processed ingredients isn’t great.
So upon being reminded of my intense love of hazelnut + chocolate around the holiday times (note: all the boxes of chocolate I received are now long gone), I was motivated to make my own Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with more wholesome ingredients.
I was further inspired by this blog post about Toasted Hazelnut Butter and Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Spread. Since I don’t use metric system measurements, my recipe turned out different because I was just going by taste but check out these recipes too because they look wonderful! 🙂
Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp raw unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
- almond milk – until desired consistency
- Toast your hazelnuts in the oven. I preheated mine to 350 degrees and toasted them for 8 minutes. The outer casings got golden brown and crisped up a little!
- Blend your hazelnuts in a food processor or blender for a few minutes – it will get crumbly first but then will start to release the natural hazelnut oil. I opted to use my food processor because the other day my blender exploded on me during a particularly aggressive smoothie concoction.
- Optional: After a few minutes mine was still pretty crumbly so I added a tsp of coconut oil to help it along – it also gave it a delicious hint of coconut flavor. It probably wasn’t necessary because once you add maple syrup and almond milk, it will get liquid enough so feel free to leave it out!
- Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and continue blending. Scrape down the sides if the cocoa powder gets stuck!
- Add a splash of almond milk at a time, continuing blending, until it reaches the desired consistency. Keep tasting and add more cocoa or maple depending on how sweet and chocolatey you want it!
- Store it in a jar in the refrigerator and put it on everything 😉
I ate my Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and a sliced banana on top of my oats this morning. Delicious!
Another idea? Spread it on your spelt bread toast 🙂