Toasted hazelnuts (or filberts as we used to call them in Oregon) are one of my favorite snacks. Between growing up in Oregon and Germany and lots of time in Italy, hazelnuts are in my blood. If you grind them up with a little salt, honey, olive oil and cocoa powder (optional), you get a spectacular treat. Eat by the spoonful, spread on toast, top your granola . . . good lord, it’s delicious! It’s a bit more like a nut butter than Nutella but the cocoa puts it in Nutella territory for sure. Try it without first and see what you think.
If you happen to have nuts in their shells, get cracking! It took me just about an hour to crack a pound of filberts yesterday. The nuts will be fresh and delicious (they keep better in shell) and you’ll save lots of $ but by all means use whatever you can get your hands on.
A jar of this makes a fantastic gift for someone you really love! And speaking of gifts, Cook With What You Have gift certificates make a good one too! Food makes people happy and we all need to eat so why not make it really delicious?!
(Chocolate) Hazelnut Butter
–adapted from Debbie Driscoll
Yields about 3 half-pints (ideal size for gift-giving)
If you use the cocoa you’ll need a little more oil to keep the texture creamy. It will be very creamy, even with less oil, when you’re making it but once you refrigerate it will solidify a bit more and get crumbly. Still very delicious but harder to spread.
1 lb shelled hazelnuts
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup), more if you want a sweeter version but start with this
1/4 cup olive oil (or more neutral oil like sunflower; make sure if using olive oil, it’s not at all bitter or it will overpower the nuts) + more if you’re using the cocoa powder (see below)
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (more to taste)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spread nuts on a sheet pan and toast for about 15 minutes or until quite toasty smelling and a shade darker. Put toasted nuts on a dishtowel and let cool for a few minutes. Then use the towel to rub the skins off the nuts as best you can. Some will certainly remain, which is just fine. Collect the nuts, leaving the skins behind and put them in a food processor. They should be mostly cooled by now. Process for a few minutes, scraping the sides whenever needed until the butter forms and it moves in a big clump, about 3-4 minutes. Add the honey, salt and 1/4 cup oil and continue processing for another minute or so, scraping the sides as needed. Taste and see what you think. If you’d like, add cocoa and another 2-3 tablespoons oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. Then try not to eat it all right then and there!
Portion into 1/2 pint jars and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.