Gloria loves chocolate. Gloria is hypoglycemic. Gloria is also soy intolerant. Like Major, Gloria chooses to live healthfully.
Finding chocolate products that Gloria can or wants to eat is nearly impossible. Let me rephrase that sentence. Finding chocolate products that Gloria can or will choose to eat is nearly impossible. Like a true chocoholic, she wants it all.
“No problem,” Gloria said, “I’ll just make our chocolate desserts.”
Major did some research. Cocoa (or chocolate) beans have a large number of good nutrients: cocoa butter, protein, vitamins, antioxidants.
Gloria got excited. “If chocolate is healthy, then I can eat it more often – without feeling guilty.”
Major researched some more. He found that much of those good nutrients are missing in most cocoa powder. In other words, the chocolate starts out quite healthy but loses most of those nutrients along the way.
“How does that happen?” Gloria asked.
More research. This time on how chocolate makes its way from the tree to a box of cocoa powder on the store shelf. First the cocoa is harvested. The beans are separated from the pod, piled, and fermented. Next, the beans are dried.
“No problems here,” Gloria said.
When the beans are dry, they are roasted.
“Yum,” Gloria said. “Seems like a pretty harmless set of steps.”
That’s when Major found where the nutrients went. Next, most chocolate has the cocoa butter removed and is “dutched” – a nice way of saying it is treated with alkali.
“Alkali? Why?” Gloria asked.
In the nineteenth century, it was discovered that treating the cocoa powder with alkali removes much of the bitterness associated with chocolate. That meant chocolate desserts could be made more flavorful by adding milk and sugar. It also made them cheaper and more available to more people. But removing the bitterness also removed most of the vitamins and antioxidants from the cocoa powder.
Gloria had the opportunity to taste a packaged spread combining chocolate and hazelnuts. She loved it! However, one look at the list of ingredients was enough to make her drop her knife.
Major decided to make some of his own as a gift to Gloria.
She loves it!
Here is his version.
- 2 c hazelnuts
- ⅓ c chocolate nibs
- ⅓ c fructose or xylitol
- 4 t hazelnut oil
- 1½ t vanilla
- ½ t sea salt
- ½ c rice milk
- Place the nuts and chocolate nibs in separate ovenproof glass dishes and roast for about six hours at 250 degrees. Stir about once per hour or whenever you think about it.
- Blend the nuts and nibs in a blender until slightly granular. Like gritty peanut butter
- Then add the remaining ingredients (except the rice milk and vanilla) and blend until smooth. It will be soupy and not buttery at all at this point
- Add the rice milk and vanilla and blend thoroughly. The mix will thicken and become smooth.
- Keeps for about a week at room temperature, so if you make a lot plan on storing it in the fridge.
Our chocolate hazelnut spread is a bit speckled because we did not remove the skins from the hazelnuts. If that bothers you, place the nuts on a towel, wrap the towel around them and rub the nuts briskly between your hands. With enough rubbing, most of the skins will flake off of the nuts. That is more work than we wished to do, so the skins stayed on.
The spread tastes wonderful. In fact, we think this makes the commercial product taste more like cheap chocolate frosting for a cake–not bad, but not we now know we can make something much better. After 2-3 days, the hazelnut flavor becomes stronger. Before then, the chocolate flavor dominates. Either way is great.
Make up a batch and tell us what you think!