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Nuts to Nutella

March 30, 2015

Who doesn’t remember discovering Nutella? Maybe the details of the very first time you’ve tried it have scattered into the dust of time. But learning of the magical existence of a spreadable chocolaty condiment was a life-changing experience for me.

It opened me up to the possibilities of other cultures who did things very differently. And that eventually led to the discovery of crepes. Crepes led to making other fancy desserts. A deeper love of food wasn’t far behind.

Nutella also went through a dark time a while back. Like all products of the era, the formulation changed to include partially hydrogenated fats. And that’s when Nutella first dropped out of my life. It’s not hard to deal with the loss when when one has an ample supply of great challah and high quality chocolate. Eating the two of those together is also a fantastic chocolate and bread experience.

Then a few years ago, I found that Nutella had changed the ingredients yet again to replace those nasty manipulated oils with palm oil (which even though it is problematic for a different set of reasons, was still an improvement in my book). Nutella came back into my life.

As of today, once again I’m done with Nutella. But this time, it’s not the brand, it’s me.

Do you know what Nutella actually is? The common answer would be chocolate hazelnut spread. Or perhaps hazelnut chocolate spread. And those would be reasonable answers, but they would also be wrong.

Nutella is sweet fat.

Oh, sweet, sweet fat. How I love you so. Please, don’t think for an instant that I would dream of disparaging sweet fat. Dragging a finger through a thick viscous pool of sweetened condensed milk, and letting that rich, sweet dairy slide over the tongue is one of life’s great pleasures. I can also be seen greedily licking the beaters of creamed butter and sugar. And don’t let me near a cup of heavy cream if there’s powdered sugar and a whisk around.

But people don’t typically pick up a jar of Nutella when they want sweet fat. They buy the stuff because they want that brilliant combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. And I can’t blame them. It’s a killer combo.

The first ingredient in Nutella is sugar. The second is palm oil. Hazelnuts are a distant third. And there’s no chocolate in there at all. But when cocoa is mixed with sugar and fat, it kind of tastes like chocolate, even if it uses artificial vanilla flavor.

Nutella advertises 48 hazelnuts in a 13 ounce jar. Let’s call it 50 to make the math easier. There are about 20 hazelnuts to an ounce. So that’s 2.5 ounces or 19% of a jar by weight. There is even less cocoa. So if you think that’s nuts and chocolate you are eating, you’re being deceived. It’s mostly sweet fat.

This weekend I finally picked up a jar of something that actually delivered on the promise of Nutella. It’s from the Peanut Principle and it’s called Chocolate Haze. It’s hazelnut butter with dark chocolate ground into it. That’s it. First ingredient is dry roasted hazelnuts. Second ingredient is the chocolate. To be fair, the chocolate is made from unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa fat, non-GMO soy lecithin and vanilla).

I could do without the soy, but I’m not going to pick nits.

Sure, this 16 ounce jar doesn’t come cheap. It’s $12, which can be a shocking price tag. And if you compare that to the $4 you might spend on a jar of Nutella, it may seem prohibitively expensive. But you can think of this as the uncut version of the now ubiquitous mass market product. If you want to thin it out with oil at home, and extend both your dollar and the product’s spreadability, then go for it. I might even try that with a little toasted hazelnut oil I have in the pantry.

Amazingly, both of the kids loved this. They thought it tasted less like Nutella and more like Ferrero Rocher® chocolates, which they like even more.

I have no plans to put this on sandwiches. It will be doled out slowly and as a treat, one small spoonful at a time. The kids will be delighted to be eating something that reminds them of candy. And I’ll be delighted to be feeding them real food.

That’s worth every penny.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2015 9:48 am

    No wonder Nutella never worked as a protein source. “Why am I so hungry? It has nuts in it!”

  2. March 30, 2015 10:20 am

    I’ve avoided all kinds of foods over the years because of HFCS and hydrogenated fats and artificial ingredients etc. etc. It’s been a wonderful thing that food giants have been reformulating basics like Heinz Ketchup and frozen french fries and taking out some of the garbage. This is even better because this simple, delicious, supernatural option is available all over the place in the Capital District, including Price Chopper!

  3. Jack C permalink
    March 30, 2015 11:38 am

    Ferrero Rocher is the company that makes Nutella, so it always baffled me why the quality of the candy never translated to the spread. This Peanut Principle product looks great. I really want to try their banana-peanut butter, too. That sounds incredible.

    On a related note, another of Ferrero’s products is called Pocket Coffee. Let me know if you ever see it in the capital region because I’m curious about it. Chocolate with liquid espresso inside… right up my alley!

  4. March 30, 2015 12:17 pm

    Why would you not eat a “spread” not spreader on things? That’s dumb. Go get some hazelnuts and some chocolate and eat that.

  5. chrisck permalink
    March 30, 2015 2:28 pm

    The Honest Weight sells a nice Callebaut gianduja that is 30% hazelnuts and 70% milk chocolate. It’s a chunk, not a spread, but I suppose you can warm it up for spreading because I know this product is used in baking as well as eating. It’s in the Specialty Foods section.

    I’ve never been a Nutella fan. And the idea of it as part of breakfast makes me gag.

  6. ericscheirerstott permalink
    March 31, 2015 5:54 am

    Trader Jo.e’s sells a similar product but with Almonds- it just tastes odd

  7. Debra permalink
    March 31, 2015 5:21 pm

    Love all of Peanut Principle’s products I’ve tried. Roasted Almond Butter – so good.

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