21 September 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter...aka Nutella

Chocolate and hazelnuts. If that doesn't make you think of Europe, then I don't know what will. I've been thinking about Europe a lot recently...especially the mountainous, dairy-laden, politically neutral center of the continent, otherwise known as Switzerland. My best friend from high school and her husband just moved to Switzerland. They'll be there for a year and I'm planning to visit in the spring.

It's significant, not just because it's big trip to look forward to, but because exactly 10 years ago this fall, I moved to Swizerland myself. I was fresh out of high school and yearning to see the world. So I did (at least, the central European part of the world). I lived in Huemoz, Switzerland at a place called L'Abri and also traveled to Italy and Austria. There were many lessons learned, possibly the most concentrated time of learning in my entire life. It was an adventurous time complete with hitchhiking, sleeping in airports and going topless in an (all female) Turkish Bath. Oh, and eating lots of Swiss chocolate with hazelnuts.

I'm not sure if it was spurred on by sweet memories or if it was the anticipation of returning, but two nights ago I decided I wanted Nutella. I was watching this amazing documentary (about trash, no less), and I literally paused it in mid-frame because I needed Nutella. For those of you unfamiliar with Nutella, it's the most famous brand of chocolate hazelnut butter commonly eaten in Europe (and the US is catching on).

It's easy to make yourself and healthier than the stuff in a jar. First, buy some raw hazelnuts (TJs has them) and toast them in a pan or roast them in the oven.

Heating them makes the skins fall off, which is good, because the skin tastes bitter. Peel off as many of the skins as you can (this is the hardest part of the process). Toss a heaping cupful into the food processor and start blending those babies.

Keep blending...

Stop and scrape the sides. Keep blending...

Once the oil from the hazelnuts starts to make more of an appearance and you get a smooth, creamy butter, you're ready to add the other ingredients.

Add 1-2 heaping Tablespoons of cocoa powder, depending on how chocolatey you want it. I like dark dark chocolate so I added two. Also add a pinch of sea salt and stevia to taste. I added two of the teensy little scoops that came in my stevia shaker.

Blend again...until you get this:

Goodness on a spoon.

This morning I had my Nutella on this GF toast.

It's like eating Europe for breakfast.

14 September 2011

My Other Love

I wish so much that I had time to cook, take pictures and write posts, but these past couple of weeks have been consumed with my other passion: languages. It's the first week of fall foreign language classes at the school where I work, so I've had long days full of phone calls and emails--which aren't my passions at all, but are a necessary evil in order to get the classes going. My breakfast this morning consisted of carrot sticks and raw almond butter, so there's not much worth seeing as far as my meals go. Entonces...

...I'll leave you with a picture of some things I wish I were eating. :) All pictures courtesy of my trip to San Francisco.

02 September 2011

Mocha Almond Fudge

I may just let the pictures do the talking today. I mean, how can I possibly improve on chocolate, coffee and almonds mixed together?

Well, I will at least add that this fudge is raw and made with soaked almonds, so not only does it taste good, but it also has some major enzyme activity going on.

In case you're wondering, the ONLY way to really enjoy fudge is by stacking it perfectly on a plate and taking it out into nature. Fudge loves the outdoors. Ok, really it's just more photogenic outside. Doesn't this fudge look great with a leafy green backdrop?

Just one little fudgy vignette before I let the pictures talk...

When I was a little girl, growing up in St. Louis, I remember going downtown to Union Station with my family to watch the men make fudge at The Fudgery. But these guys aren't just fudge makers, oh no, they're also comedians, song writers and just overall entertainers. Watching them fling liquidy fudge into the air while singing and dancing was one of my favorite things.

I may or may not have been singing in the kitchen while making this fudge.

I think singing makes the fudge turn out better. After you blend all the ingredients together (see recipe below), you just pour/spread them into a container like so.

It might be hard to tell from the picture what the size of the tupperware is, but it's pretty small. It made plenty of fudge--at least enough to last me a day or two. :) You could always do a bigger batch, of course...

Raw Mocha Almond Fudge
1 cup soaked almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1/4 cup coffee grounds (I used whole beans)
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8-1/4 tsp stevia powder (add more to taste)
1/8 tsp sea salt

Process until mixed well. add more oil and coffee (or water) until the consistency is somewhat solid but soft. Spoon into a dish or pan and cover. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Sing a song.

If I make this again, I think I'll try making it with raw almond butter and without the coconut flakes or coffee grounds so it will be creamier. It was super delish like this too, though.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!