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.
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.