I am stepping up onto a soapbox right now. You’ve been warned.
I think we’re all aware that our food has become increasingly processed. The majority of the grocery store seems to be taken up with shelf after shelf of canned food, boxed food, frozen food, “convenience food.” You try to “shop the perimeter,” where the healthier, fresher goods live, but you can’t imagine life without a box of crackers, your favourite cereal, or a few microwave dinners in the freezer for those time-constrained winter evenings. Before you know it, you’ve got a grocery cart full of bottles of salad dressing, cans of soup, and, in a moment of weakness, a jar of Nutella.
The fact that you can make any and all of those items on your own is one thing – and you should visit the from scratch section of my recipe index to find out how. I recognize that many might think it’s unnecessary, or a waste of time to make those kinds of things from scratch when there are relatively healthy and extremely convenient options available at your grocery store.
What concerns me even more is the fact that, as a society, we can’t even begin to think about homemade, preservative-free condiments when our conception of a home cooked meal is actually more along the lines of food assembly. A scan of Pinterest will reveal that the most frequently pinned dishes seem to be “easy” meals that just require “a can of this, a package of that, a box of the other thing, and voila!” This notion of home cookery is far removed from making your own Nutella or baking bread every three days.
And, as you know, my philosophy is usually that the Nutella and the bread (and the cookies), while still not the healthiest choices, are better when prepared mindfully and with love by your own two hands, and eaten with the reverence that comes with having successfully whipped up a from-scratch, preservative and other junky stuff-free food. Real food, if you will.
- 1 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1 3/4 cup milk
- 7/8 cup powdered milk
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Pinch of salt
- In a 350F oven, toast the hazelnuts and almonds, keeping them separate on the baking sheet.
- Meanwhile, warm the milk, powdered milk, honey and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat.
- In a glass or plastic bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave.
- When the nuts are toasted, remove them from the oven. Use a dish towel to rub the skins off of the hazelnuts.
- Toss the nuts into a food processor and process until they make a paste. Be patient! It will happen. The smoother the better. Add the melted chocolate and whiz in the processor until it is incorporated. Finally, pour the warm milk mixture and process until it is completely combined.
- The Nutella will seem quite runny, but trust me...transfer it to two one-cup mason jars and store in the fridge. In a couple of hours the Nutella will have set, and you won't be able to tell it from the real? fake? thing.