Growing up, we had to start making our own school lunches in about year 3. I guess it’s because I didn’t always eat what was packed for me (jam sandwiches? Yech) and my parent’s figured maybe I’d be more inclined to eat what I packed myself. I don’t really know why, but regardless that’s when I became an independent lunch packer.
It was a tough gig. What with the whole having to be organised and needing something to actually pack.
You see, I had it tough. While I had my lunch box staples of a muesli bar or crackers and a fruit box, my only other options were: fruit, a sandwich or rice thins.
Not particularly exciting I can assure you. Especially when the best two sandwich spreads were ruled out due to nut allergies at the school. Yep. No peanut butter or nutella for me.
To top it all off, I don’t really eat fruit. I mean I LOVE fruit, but it’s always annoying to eat. Sticky hands, bruised-cause-it’s-bounced-around-your-school-bag-and-stinks bananas, icky apple cores… What can I say? I like my grapes washed and removed from the stalks before eating. My oranges cut and peeled for me. My bananas pristine. I guess maybe I’m a bit of a fruit yuppy.
In addition, I didn’t have the cooking prowess to make a salad or egg sandwich. I would have happily devoured one, but the thought of making one never really crossed my mind. And as I said, jam sanwiches? Yech.
I was in a lunch rut. For about 8 years.
Then I discovered leftovers for lunch.
Cold pizza? Check.
Cold pasta? Check.
Cold rice? Check.
Cold baked veggies? Check.
Yep. I was in lunch heaven.
So all of this to say: none of this would have ever have happened if a) I was allowed nut products at school and b) my parents actually bought nutella more than once a year.
Because, let’s face it. A chocolate hazelnut spread like nutella is pretty well the most perfect thing to smear all over a piece of crusty bread. Or toast. Or rice thins. Or pretty well over anything.
It’s simple, quick to prepare and delicious. What’s not to love?
The sugar. So much sugar. Sigh. You see, once I got older and moved out of home the largest jar of nutella you could possibly find would wind its way into our cupboard (situated right next to the commercial sized tin of milo). You see, these were probably my two biggest indulgences after moving out of home. So tasty. But then a special occasion food became an out-of-the-jar-multiple-times-a-day food. Ooops.
And after a while we decided to give up on sugar. And that was that.
Until recently, when we discovered the joys of homemade chocolate hazelnut spread. And this stuff rocks my world. It almost tastes like Ferrero Rocher chocolates turned into a spread. Yum.
And it is so freaking easy.
Yes, it still gets eaten straight out of the jar. Yes, it still barely lasts the week. Yes, it is actually good for me. Let me say, this stuff is a win for humanity.
Dreamy chocolate hazelnut spread
Makes about 500g or two medium sized condiment jars Inspired by many variations on the web and put randomly together by me
400g hazelnuts (roasted and without skins for optimal taste and texture)
50g raw honey (or maple syrup)– more or less to taste
3 tbsp or 15g raw cacao or cocoa
Pinch sea salt, completely optional
Now this is super easy… wait for it… Process the hazelnuts in a high powered food processor or blender until it is a smooth and creamy hazelnut butter. Then add all the other ingredients and process, sampling and adjusting to suit your tastes.
Put into jars and store in the cupboard or fridge until all eaten.
Notes and suggestions: the type of sweetener and cacao you use will change the taste, with maple syrup providing caramel undertones and different honeys imparting a different flavours. Dutch processed cocoa will provide a rounder and sweeter taste, raw cacao will provide a nice bitter edge that I love. Mix it up to suit you!
To make it more nutella tasting and less Ferrero Rocher tasting, add a tablespoon or two of cream or coconut cream—just make sure you store this in the fridge and pay attention to the use by date of the cream.
Change up the type of nut you use. A friend at the local farmers markets makes a lovely chocolate honey and macadamia butter, it is so rich and amazing. You could also use almonds, or if you have a nut allergy use a pumpkin or sunflower seed. I also think pistachios would work well.
Try adding some spices or other add ins for a more adult flavour, such a lavender, cayenne or coffee.
This mix also tastes amazing in homemade chocolate as a praline filling.