Posted on January 13, 2019
If you are a chocolate lover and/or if you have lived or been to Europe, chances are you have tried Nutella® before and you are probably totally addicted to it. Now if you are like me and you grew up in France, where eating Nutella® for breakfast or a snack is a national sport, chances are you still have to have your Nutella® fix once in a while, but are not so keen on some of the ingredients that are present in its recipe (palm oil, soy lecithin…). Don’t take me wrong, the recipe used to be worse (hydrogenated palm oil was listed for a while) but the brand has worked on improving its formula, and even though it still contains some saturated fat and sugar, the delicious spread also supplies a good amount of key vitamins and minerals. I just don’t like the fact that it is using palm oil, which the production has an extremely harmful impact on the planet. It contributes to deforestation of the rainforest, therefore a loss of animal habitat for endangered species. In the past 16 years, the quest for palm oil has led to the death of an estimated 100,000 orangutans… Other animals, such as rhinos and elephants are also supposed to be at risk. As a concerned world citizen and animal and planet lover, my conscience just doesn’t allow me to buy products that use palm oil (or other non-sustainable products). Nutella® is one of them, I have decided to make my own by coming up with a recipe that would not use the controversial oil, and use less sugar by the same token.
The chocolate spread recipe below only uses 4 ingredients and does not use any added sugar. It is extremely simple and quick to make, nutritious, and does not contain any yucky ingredients. It will, for sure, satisfy your craving for the delicious spread.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool off. Once the hazelnuts are safe to the touch, place in a kitchen towel and roll the hazelnuts with your hands to remove as much skin as you can (if the hazelnuts are already skinless, skip this step). Don’t sweat it if you can’t remove some of the skin, it will be fine anyway.
Add the skinned hazelnut to a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend on low until a hazelnut butter is formed. It should take about 10 minutes depending on your blender.
Heat the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave, making sure it does not burn.
Add the vanilla and the oil and blend again to mix all the ingredients. Add the chocolate little by little until it is well blended in the hazelnut butter. If you decide to sweeten your hazelnut spread, add the maple syrup or sweetener now and blend again.
Et voila! Your feel-good chocolate hazelnut spread is ready for consumption! Transfer to a glass jar or a covered bowl and keep for 2-3 weeks (do not put in the fridge or it will harden and lose some of its flavors…)
This chocolate-hazelnut spread will be amazing on a freshly baked baguette (see my amazingly easy recipe here), pancakes, crêpes, waffles, any kind of toasted bread, cut up banana, apples, honey wheat pretzel sticks, and/or just out of the jar with a tablespoon… Yep!
Posted on November 6, 2018
I am not kidding here… This is the most surprisingly easy recipe for French baguette that I have ever tried in my entire life! Now you might say that “easy” doesn’t mean “good” or “authentic” at all, but… it has been tested by the French Connection (including myself as well as the fam) here in San Diego and it was unanimously approved! Now the beauty of this super simple recipe is that there is no kneading or poolish involved! You can basically get the dough ready in the evening (in about 10 minutes), let it rise overnight and cook your bread in the morning for a delicious and typical French breakfast.
In a mixing bowl, mix the yeast with a little bit of the lukewarm water to dilute it and then add the rest of the water
Add the flour and the salt and mix roughly with a wooden spoon (yep you read that right)
Cover the bowl with a cotton fabric towel and leave for about 1 hour and 1/2 until the dough has doubled in volume
Preheat the oven to 465°F (240°C) and fill the drip pan with water (the moisture released will help the crust be more crunchy during the baking process)
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured baking sheet or stone (you can line it with parchment paper), or directly into The dough will be very sticky but it is totally ok and normal. Stretch it in one long baguette, or you can separate in two or more pieces to make more baguettes (smaller ones though). Don’t work the dough too much so it doesn’t go down.
Make beveled cuts on top of each baguette with scissors or a blade (2 or 3 cuts per baguette loaf)
Place the baguettes in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes (each oven is different so cooking time may vary)
Take the baguettes out of the oven and let cool on a rack and wait about 30 minutes before cutting.
Store in a cotton fabric bag or a towel (no plastic please!). It will keep for about 2 days but I guarantee you that it will be gone way before that! You can also freeze them but do it the day you baked them and once they are cooled.
Bon appétit! 🇫🇷
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