Nutty Nutella

World Nutella Day is February 5!  Nutella, for those who may not know, is a chocolate hazelnut spread.  It was originally created by Pietro Ferrero in 1944 in the back room of his bakery in Alba.  It was originally made of just hazelnut paste and chocolate and was created as a way to make chocolate go further.  It was sold in a solid block at the time.  A creamier version was created in 1951, but the Nutella we all know was renamed and jarred for the first time in 1964 by Pietro’s son, Michele. Today, Nutella is made mainly of sugar and palm oil with only about 13% being hazelnut, according to research done by Greenpeace.

Fun Facts:

The original name for Nutella was Gianduja.  Gianduja was a smiling peasant who rode around town on a donkey carrying a container everyone suspected was full of liquor.  He was used on the original packaging for the product.

Ferrero uses about a quarter (100,000 tons or so) of the world’s hazelnut supply each year.  Ferrero claims a two year supply would fill the Roman Coliseum. Hazelnuts have become so trendy, prices have gone up and farmers are growing it in places that never have before, like Australia. One more thing to note, in 2014 Ferrero bought the Otlan Group, which is the world’s leading supplier of hazelnuts.

In 2013, there was a scandal involving Nutella and Columbia University.  Apparently, the school was spending $6000 each week on Nutella in one of its dining facilities.  Students were eating 100 pounds a day of the stuff. Talk about an addiction!  

The same year, there was a theft of the hazelnut spread in Germany.  There, a parked truck had the equivalent of about $20,000 of Nutella stolen.  That was about 5 metric tons!  What do you do with that much Nutella?!  

There are Nutella Cafés you can visit, at least two of them are approved by Ferrero itself.  The flagship is in Chicago if you’re ever in the area and interested in a visit.  You can pick up a jar of Nutella while there, but the true gem is the menu, where everything listed includes at least some Nutella.

Nutella has quite the fan base.  People have claimed to bond with their spouse over Nutella and named their pets Nutella, including racehorses. In 2014, for Nutella’s 50th Anniversary, the Italian postal service created a stamp for Nutella.  In 2015, a shopper was punched out by another customer over Nutella waffle samples. The same year, France told a couple they could not name their child Nutella. 

There was a point in time Nutella was so popular, Italian markets began offering free smears of Nutella to any kid who showed up with a slice of bread.  The phenomenon was known as ‘The Smearing’.  Make your grocery list and pick up some Nutella this weekend.  Then, meet me in the kitchen to cook with this hazelnut spread!  One thing to note, however, is to never refrigerate Nutella.  This will turn it into the solid block it was originally and they worked so hard to overcome.  

Nutella Banana Bread

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup real unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

1½ cups mashed ripe bananas, about 4-5 medium bananas

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line loaf pan with parchment paper.  Stir together sugars and melted butter until combined. Mix in 2 eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas, stirring well. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda just until no flour remains. Batter will be thick. Pour half of batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top.  Microwave ½ cup Nutella for about 20-25 seconds. Spoon melted Nutella evenly over batter and spread to edges. Use knife to swirl Nutella into batter. Pour rest of batter into pan and smooth top. Melt remaining Nutella.  Dollop remaining Nutella over top of batter and smooth to edge like before. Swirl into batter. Bake for about 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs remaining. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool the rest of the way. Leaving it in pan to cool completely can cause it to be overcooked.  

Recipe adapted from marblekitchen.com

 

Nutella Brownies

1 cup Nutella

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 Tbsps. Dutch-process cocoa powder

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper. Add Nutella and butter to medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring well between each interval, until Nutella is melty and smooth. Be careful not to burn the Nutella. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined. Whisk in melted chocolate until well combined. Fold in flour with rubber spatula just until combined. Spread batter evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool brownies in pan on wire rack. 

Note: These cooking instructions are for cake-like brownies.  If you prefer fudgy brownies, reduce cooking time to 20-25 minutes.  Brownie edges will be set and top will look done, but toothpick inserted will come out wet.  Allow to cool completely on wire rack then refrigerate for easier cutting.  

Recipe adapted from bakedbyanintrovert.com.

Nutella Cookie Cups

1 tube (16-1/2 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 tsps. orange extract, more or less to taste

1 cup Nutella

1 cup fresh raspberries, 1 per cookie cup is what you need 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease mini muffin tins.  Allow refrigerated cookie dough to sit out for about 25-35 minutes to soften enough to add other ingredients to it.  In small bowl, mix cookie dough, flour and orange extract. Shape dough into 1-in. balls and press evenly onto bottoms and up sides of prepared mini-muffin cups. Bake 10 minutes or until just barely browning.  Cool in pans 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cups to loosen. Cool in pans another 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Place Nutella in center of each cookie and top with raspberry. 

Recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com.

 

Pancake Kebabs

1 pancake mix of your choosing

1 jar Nutella

1lb fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices

2 large firm bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds

Toothpicks, skewers or appetizer picks, whichever you can find

Prepare pancake batter according to package directions and pour small dabs of batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle or skillet for 1 -1/2 inch diameter pancakes (about 3/4 tablespoon of batter per mini pancake).  Cook mini pancakes for about a minute on each side or until lightly browned.  Spread small dollop of Nutella on each of the pancake bites and layer the ingredients onto toothpicks. I used 3 pancakes per toothpick and 2 pieces of fruit.  Serve immediately and enjoy!