Every now and again comfort food is needed and this hazelnut and chocolate spread fits the bill. I love this easy to make nutritious nut butter on rye bread and topped with sliced bananas. It is equally good on oat cakes or Ryvita. My preference is to use date syrup, as it is perhaps closest to what we could call a whole food sweetener. Plus, it adds a delicious flavour to the nut butter.
I keep a close eye on the hazelnuts when they are in the oven. When they are fragrant and the skins are shiny and quite dark they are ready. I like to remove some of the skins as they can be a little bitter. To remove the skins tip the toasted hazelnuts onto a clean tea towel and gather up the corners to make a bundle. Give the hazelnuts a good rub and most of the skins will flake off. Transfer the hazelnuts to the goblet of the food processor leaving the skins behind in the towel.
400 grams, 14 oz hazelnuts
½ cup date syrup
3 tablespoons cacao
¼ teaspoon salt
2 vanilla pods
½ cup water
What to do
Preheat oven to 180ºC (fan160ºC)
1. To toast the hazelnuts spread them out on a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes. Check them at about 8 minutes to be sure they are not getting too brown. Take them out of the oven and allow to cool.
2. Slit the vanilla pods along one side and scrape out the seeds. Set to one side.
3. When the hazelnuts are cool, remove most of the skins if you choose to. Place them in a food processor and blend until they are totally broken down and beginning to look like nut butter.
4. Add the cacao, salt, vanilla seeds and date syrup. Blend again for a few minutes.
5. While the machine is running on the slowest speed gradually add the water.
6. Store the nut butter in screw top jars in the fridge. It keeps well for at least a week … if it lasts that long!
Whole Food Plant Based Lifestyle Tip: Hazelnuts are rich in dietary fiber and folates, as well as being packed with other important B-complex groups of vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). Folates are important for expectant mothers. Cacao increases levels of certain neurotransmitters that creates a sense of well-being. So it is a true comfort food!