How to Make Palm-Oil Free 'Nutella'

Now that the dust has settled on what is likely the most interesting debacle to have ever surrounded a chocolate nut spread, we all know a few things in hindsight. Nutella does use 100% segregated certified sustainable palm-oil, which as we mentioned in the past is the second best option for RSPO certified palm and for a manufacturer of Ferrero's size, this is quite impressive. However, as this blogger postulates, Nutella has not always used palm-oil in their famous recipe. And so, to recreate a similar vegan spread at home, one does not need much. 

While this recipe may not taste exactly like the real thing, it is a great substitute and overall, a super tasty spread. The final formula for this one took quite a bit of tinkering. So, we're going to make a few suggestions beforehand, based on what we've learned: 

The Equipment 

To make a chocolate hazelnut spread, you first have to briefly make nut butter in your blender or processor, and then add ingredients on top of that. This means that you need pretty stellar appliances and there's sort of no way around this. You don't have to have an expensive machine - just be sure that the motor is strong enough to grind the nuts into a paste without overheating.

We tried it with a standard blender, then with a food processor, and then with a Vitamix -- the final option faring best of course. However, I think that a high powered blender or a medium sized food processor with a great blade will do just fine. 

In any case: add ingredients in small increments, keep your basin well-oiled, and try powdering your sugar (in a coffee grinder) before starting. 

The Nuts

You may find trouble locating raw, skinless hazelnuts at your supermarket. You'll probably be able to find dry roasted ones though, at Whole Foods for example, that partially have their skin intact. You can certainly make your spread with this but note that the dry roasting process has deprived the nuts of their oil. This means that you will have to add far more oil to compensate and must supplement half of your hazelnuts with a more oily, raw nut like cashews. 

For example, in this case your recipe would read 1 cup dry roasted hazelnuts and 1 cup raw cashews. You won't be able to taste the cashews and your mixture won't seize up in the blender.

The Sugar

You'll notice that in a lot of other 'Nutella' recipes that the sugar content is quite high, almost always two cups or more. But we tasted this recipe as we conceived it, during its many generations, and a cup of sugar was always enough. If you want it to taste more authentic, you may want to add more. Or, if you don't want your mixture to be too thick, you can add the one cup and a tbsp or so of Stevia at the end - a great suggestion made to us by a friend in the kitchen.

P.S. We initially tried this recipe with different amounts of pure vanilla bean but it would take a lot of vanilla bean to achieve the right flavor for the yield you want, which would be very costly. We say skip that route and go straight for the extract.


Chocolate Hazelnut Spread 

Roughly: 12-18 oz
Depending on oil content

Ingredients
2 cups raw, naked hazelnuts  -- see note above
1 cup (coconut) sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1.5 tbsp of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Up to 3/4 cup of sunflower oil -- see instructions
Sunflower (or soy) lecithin liquid -- optional

Instructions

Note -- The amount of oil you use for this recipe will depend on the kind of hazelnuts you buy (see above) so, add oil every time your mix seems to get chalky. If you have raw hazelnuts, you may only use a few tablespoons total. If you use dry roasted hazelnuts and cashews (which we'll call 'nut blend'), then you could end up using the whole 3/4 cup of oil. However, the mild nutty flavor of the sunflower oil doesn't alter the taste very much.

1. Add the hazelnuts to your blender or processor and turn on low, slowly increasing the speed to high as the mixture churns into a peanut butter like paste. If using the nut blend, add a 2 tbsp of oil before blending. 

2. Add your sugar and blend. If at this point your mix is getting a bit heavy or chalky, add a tbsp of oil, whichever nut blend you chose.

How to Make: Palm-Oil Free 'Nutella' | Selva Beat

3. Slowly add in and blend the cocoa powder. If using the nut blend, add a tbsp of oil or two throughout. 

4. Add in the salt and vanilla extract and give it a quick blend -- the mixture at this point should be smooth, creamy, and shiny. If it feels a little thick when you dip in a spoon or knife, add a tbsp or two more oil and blend.

5. Finally, if you can, add a tablespoon sunflower or soy lecithin, which will emulsify your spread and give it that really slick and wet appearance for which the original is known.

And there you have it! An easy chocolate hazelnut spread recipe with enough yield to last you a month or, maybe just a weekend. Cheers!

If you're interested, we put our 'Nutella' in a Weck tulip jar. You can purchase the size above here or a smaller version here