There are a few food items that I try very hard not to have at home: Sebastian’s Ice Cream (any flavor), Lay’s Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips in Barbeque Flavor, Cheetos Twisted, Hershey’s Chocolate Milk, Kitkat Crunchy, and bars of milk chocolate, especially Lindt and Ritter Sport. I also used to avoid having jars of peanut butter (PB) in the house, but since my Bin started mountain biking regularly, he demands that we have PB in the house for quick energy boosts.
The above are snacks that never fail to tempt and tease me, and I can’t trust myself with them. I know myself well enough to know that if they’re in my house, I’ll eat every last bit. And no, moderation doesn’t work for me. It’s all or nothing.
The one food that I’d call my Achilles’ heel, the one that inevitably leads to my diet downfall is Nutella. I grew up on this ridiculously addicting chocolate hazelnut spread, slathering it over pillow-soft bread topped with sliced bananas, my first bite oozing chocolate onto my fingers; and in times of dire chocolate cravings, I could polish off half a small jar with just a teaspoon. Man, I miss the days I could eat like that.
As an adult, I’ve discovered more “restrained” (ahem) ways to eat Nutella: dollops on a banana or a tablespoonful mixed into hot (low fat) milk for a quick hot chocolate. When I’m feeling far from virtuous however, I let loose and spoon ribbons of the stuff on two just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies topped with vanilla ice cream that’s on the verge of melting. Now that is the last word on orgasmic.
A recent trip to the supermarket yields a 750-gram jar of Nutella. (I know, I know, this time I can’t help myself.) To make matters worse, I buy two of the damn things. Driving home, I’m kicking myself, but some part of me is gleefully thinking of what I can do with the extra jar.
In a tart…
I remember seeing recipes for Pierre Hermé’s Nutella tart (a search produces countless recipes): a crust tenderized with ground almonds is the regal receptacle for a layer of Nutella topped with a layer of melted chocolate, its surface strewn with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.
Looking at the recipe however, I decide against using the almond crust because I want a crunchy, chocolate crust that’ll emphasize the chocolate note in the Nutella; plus, I want a tart that’s brown throughout. I end up cobbling together a crust made from crushed chocolate graham crackers, shortbread cookies, and roasted hazelnuts. Bound with a little melted butter and sugar, it’s more than worthy to take on the majesty that is Nutella.
Studying the chocolate filling in Pierre Hermé’s recipe, I’m uneasy that there’s more butter (by weight) than the chocolate ”“ something strikes me as off-balance about it in proportion to the other ingredients; and seeing that there’s also one egg and three yolks (for structure) and no cream, I realize that the resulting filling will bake up differently than if this were a ganache.
Without boring or confounding you with baking science talk, I use less butter, Valrhona Guanaja 70% chocolate, and I keep the yolks and egg. It results in an almost malleable “custard” that holds the swirls and peaks that are made as I coax it onto the Nutella. I’ve run out of hazelnuts so I decide to omit the sprinkle on top.
After 11 minutes of baking, the topping has puffed up a little and then deflates into a solid coat of chocolate as it cools to room temperature. Gazing at this creation, my mouth begins to water uncontrollably.
Dessert lovers and hardcore Nutella fans rhapsodize about its superlative, almost transcendental smell, texture, and versatility. Take all of that and multiply it by ten: it would equal the ambrosia of this tart. First, there’s a crunch of hazelnut and shortbread dancing in rhythm; and then the Nutella casts its spell, lathering my tongue in sweet velvet. The bittersweet bite of the Valrhona chocolate topping serves to prevent taste fatigue (umay), causing me to want more and more.
As I eat, my breathing deepens in gratitude. Good lord.
In a cup…
Since I have a large jar of Nutella at my disposal, I pipe some into mini muffin liners that have been coated with melted chocolate. Next, I pipe a layer of peanut butter mixed with some powdered sugar, and then another layer of melted chocolate tops the whole thing off.
These are simple, little things ”“ I think of them as deluxe peanut butter cups smooched with Nutella. The kids I introduce them to fall in love with them, and the adults (at least the ones who like peanut butter) curse me for giving these cups to them.
After wading through some dubious Nutella Tart recipes here are some that I like: