Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hazelnut spread - homemade Nutella

We have been contemplating on getting a pet for some time.  Actually years now.  But living in a rental has its limitations.  And a pet is one of them.  Even with the good relationship we have with our real estate agent, we have not attempted to get one - for many reasons: not getting approved, costs, space, sitting when we go on holiday, etc.

This Easter we stopped contemplating and we got ducklings for the girls (the 10yos) each, from the market.  The poor little things were crammed in a box filled with about 50 of them and they looked so adorable as ducklings are. If you have been following me on Instragram, you would have seen this Easter post. - 3 ducklings (named Anchor, Buttercup and Pato - a Tagalog word for duck) and 3 chicks (named Salt, Pepper and Ginger).  They were so cute!   Well the having-a-pet-to-care for did it. It was a good exercise of responsibility for the girls. They woke up early to bring them out of the cage, hose and clean the cage, prepare some newspaper and mulch for the cage flooring, refill food and water.  And everyone was happy.  It became a happy little routine during the school holidays and early on when term 2 started.

Fast forwad the third week after Easter - one just went out.  Died.  Right before my very eyes.  One of the girls was home sick that day and we were out the back, getting some sun just sitting and admiring the cuteness.  Then Anchor just sat down, closed its eyes and never stood up.  We lifted it up and it was lifeless.  You can imagine the reaction from my daughter.  It was a mix of sadness and fear, anxiety and grief.  She cried like there was no tomorrow.  It was heart breaking.  When the two other girls came home from school, it became it even worse.  There was more loud crying, more tears, more questions, screaming.  There was grief.  Gloom.  Mourning.  For a good half hour, it was continuous.  Big sister came home and helped consoling the grief stricken.  Hubby and I were speechless.  Overwhelmed.  I cried too.  We did a small memorial out the back.  Juliana who was at home sick that day was the only one brave enough to watch as we dug a hole in the backyard and buried the poor thing.   She put down a flower.  No more loud cries, but there were tears.  That night, lots of hard questions were asked.  We tried best to answer them without adding any more tears.  There were still tears come bedtime.

After a few days, the other duck appeared to look tired and was not as active as in previous days.  That night after dinner, Buttercup sat in the cage lifeless. Not again.  So for another half hour, there was another round of intense crying, tears, screms.  There were no more questions. But the tears kept flowing.  The house was quiet. We dug another hole. 

It's been a week since and Pato is thriving, enjoying being the lone duck amongst the chicks.  They're a happy bunch of fowls, grazing in the backyard during the day, and cuddling together at night.  The girls are happy now and that episode has been put behind but never forgotten, for sure.  We hope to give them a new home soon, as the real estate agent will not allow fowls because of the possibility of pests.  The girls don't mind.  They know that whatever time left their pets have with us are happy times and moments that they can keep. 

Moving on to happier episodes.

This hazelnut spread is the best thing we've ever done in the kitchen.  We made this twice already during the school holidays.  The girls used most of it for their sandwiches as you would with Nutella, and I've used them for my hazelnut buttercream icing for a birthday cake. 

How easy?

You get some hazelnuts.

Roast them in the oven.

Skin them using tea towels or soak them in water and peel them off by hand.

Process the nuts and ingredients in a processor.

And voila!  The best hazelnut spread you'll ever need.  100% hazelnut not 13% like that famous spread you get from the supermarket.

Word of caution though.  Roasted hazelnuts are kryptonite.  It's hard to stop when you start eating them!

And this hazelnut spread?  Well, the flavour truly shines.  You might even leave that other brand for good. 

This recipe is adapted from Michelle from the food blog Brown Eyed Baker


300 grams (or 2 cups) hazelnuts

100 grams (or 1 cup) icing sugar

35 grams (or 1/3 cup) Dutch processed cocoa*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes


Preheat oven to 180*C and line a cookie sheet or tray with baking paper.

Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer and roast in the oven until dark brown, 10-12 minutes.

Take off from the oven and leave to cool.

Take the skins off the hazelnuts. Cool the roasted hazelnuts.  Once cooled, rub between you palms and separate the skinless ones in a separate bowl.

Place the skinless roasted hazelnuts in the food processor and process until the natural oils of the nuts are released.  4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula every few minutes.

Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder, vegetable oil and sea salt flakes.

Continue to process until you get a smooth and glossy consistency.

Transfer into a clean sterilised jar with a tight fitting lid.

Tips and tricks

* In Australia, you can get the Nestle brand Dutch process cocoa from any local supermarket;

*  The original recipe called for hazelnut oil.  We used vegetable oil as hazelnut oil is hard to find.  I have recently found them from a wholesale shop, and they cost $16.50 for a 500ml bottle.

* To take the skins off hazelnuts takes quite a bit of time.  You can opt for several methods, including what we did, or these:
  1. Using tea towels, rub the hazelnuts inside the two or one folded tea towel and rub until the skins come off;
  2. Transfer the warm hazelnuts into a bowl of cold water and slip the skins off with your fingers;
  3. Boil the roasted hazelnuts in a water with a mixture of baking soda, then run in cold water (we tried this option the first time, but I found it did not work for us)
  4. Follow Michelle's process and place them in a bowl, cover with a same size bowl and shake until you get all the skins off.
* More detailed instructions on how to skin hazelnuts from Fine Cooking.

This hazelnut spread is so good, you would even want to eat it by the spoonful!  And here's a a thought for those homemade Christmas gifts you've been planning to make. This, is going to make you famous with friends.

And by the way, here's a pic of our happy backyard campers.  If you're in Sydney and are interested to adopt these funny and lovable feathered friends, let me konw.  We'd love for them to go to a good home.

L-R: Salt, Ginger, Pepper and Pato (duck)


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