Homemade_Nutella_Recipe

Homemade Nutella Recipe: Say Good-Bye to Palm Oil

Homemade_Nutella_RecipeDo you love Nutella but feel guilty about consuming such obscene amounts of palm oil?

OF COURSE YOU DO. Everyone does. How can you not love Nutella?

This week I discovered this homemade Nutella recipe by Lollie Rock posted on mamansquidechirent.com (loose translation: momswhorock.com). Since it is in French, and since I discovered a helpful trick to make this recipe easier, I thought I’d share with you guys.

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of hazelnuts, skinned and toasted (see below for a great trick!)
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of hazelnut oil

Directions:

After skinning and toasting your hazelnuts, toss them in your mixer. You’ll want a good mixer to be sure that you get a nice, smooth consistency (unlike mine which resulted in a somewhat granular–but not unpleasant!–Nutella). Blend them until they have a smooth, buttery consistency. (Alternatively, save yourself some time and find hazelnut butter at the store).

Next, add the rest of your ingredients one by one, mixing each in thoroughly before adding the next. Starting with the hazelnut oil will help keep things nice and moist.

Mix thoroughly. If you find your Nutella is too dry or grainy, add a touch more hazelnut oil until it gets the consistency you want. Don’t worry about the amount of oil: you’ll never get as much in there as in the real thing.

How to skin and toast hazelnuts like Julia Child

I read somewhere that the best way to skin and roast hazelnuts is to put them in the oven at 175°C (350°F) for 15 minutes, then rub them in a tea towel to get the skins off.

I also read that this technique is only partially effective. So I did some googling and found this article from mybakingaddiction.com that revealed a secret shown to Julia Child: boil the hazelnuts in 2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons (you read that right!) of baking soda.

Here’s how it works:

Boil: 2 cups of water. Add: 3 tbsp of baking soda. Pour in your hazelnuts. The water will turn black and will foam up. Boil for 3 minutes (or thereabouts). In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water.

Pick out one hazelnut to test. Drop it in ice water and if the skin slips off easily, drop the rest in. Then simply slip the skins off the rest of the hazelnuts one by one, and place them on a tea towel to pat dry.

Toast in the oven at 175°C (or 350°F) for 15 minutes. Your kitchen will smell lovely.

Here is a video of Alice Medrich showing this technique to Julia Child (with a great hazelnut biscotti recipe to boot!):

Bonus info: Why you should avoid palm oil

The production of palm oil is linked to the destruction of rainforest in Indonesia, further endangering species like the orangutan. Visit the World Wildlife Fund’s website for more information about palm oil and why you should avoid it.

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Finished Lava Flow Cowl

Lessons From The Lava Flow Cowl

It’s time to add another project to the “Done” list! This lava flow cowl, knitted for a special someone, is my latest finished knitting project, and my first foray into the world of cable knitting!

The pattern is a free download, available here on Ravelry. I learned a few lessons from this project, which I will elucidate for you here.

Lesson 1: The Provisional Cast-On

The provisional cast-on is a technique whereby you pick up and knit your first row from a crocheted chain. The idea is that later, you can unzip the crocheted chain and put live stitches back on your hook in order to do a graft (more on that later).

Lava Flow Cowl in Progress
Provisional cast-on and stitch counter are both visible here.

Picking up and knitting from a crocheted chain might sound very simple to those who know how to both crochet and knit, but there is one little trick to keep in mind: The stitches must be picked up from the back of the chain.

As Staci from VeryPink Knits explains in this video about doing a provisional cast-on, the knit stitches should be picked up from what she calls the “hyphens” on the back of the crocheted chain.

Of course, I hadn’t watched that video when I did my provisional cast-on. So “unzipping” my chain was more of a nightmare than anything. Oh well, you live and learn!

Lesson 2: Stitch Counters Are a Blessing (When You Remember to Use Them)

This pattern calls for repetitions of 21 rows of rib stitch knitting. As you can imagine, it’s easy to lose count if you’re not paying attention, and I’m still learning to count rows in knitting. So I got myself a handy-dandy stitch counter, which lives on your cable (or whatever you’re using to knit).

But of course, the trick of using the stitch counter is to actually update it at the end of each row. A tool is only as effective as its user makes it.

Lesson 3: Read Reviews of Yarn on Ravelry Before Purchasing

I picked the yarn for its softness and its color. It’s Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash DK in a vibrant purple, and squeezing it in the yarn store was such a pleasure.

Sadly, though, part-way through the project I noticed that it was starting to pill! That’s when I went on Ravelry and read the reviews of the yarn. To my dismay, I learned two things: The yarn pills terribly and it loses its shape when washed and must be thrown in the dryer for a bit in order to reshape it.

Lava Flow Cowl Work in Progress
Already starting to pill…

Bummer! I was too far into the project to back out now, so despite the pilling, I kept going…

Lesson 4: Practice A New Technique First

While my mess-up with the provisional cast-on was annoying, it wasn’t too detrimental to the outcome of the cowl. What was a big mistake was my neglecting to practice the grafting technique ahead of time.

Failed Grafting
It’s not really supposed to look like this…

Grafting, or the kitchener stitch, is when you take two sets of “live” stitches (meaning they’re still on your needles) and graft them together with some yarn and a sewing needle, so that there is no seam.

Once again, I referred to YouTube and VeryPink Knits for some help. Her video about grafting in rib stitch is excellent, as are the written instructions in the video description.

But foolishly, instead of practicing a grafting on a couple of swatches of yarn like Staci does here, I decided to go ahead and do it directly on my work. As you can see from the photo above, it didn’t work out so well.

Despite All That, I’m Proud of My Lava Flow Cowl.

Despite all the mistakes made along the way, the final result turned out quite pretty:

Finished Lava Flow Cowl
Done!

The recipient, my colleague and friend Marjorie, is delighted with it. She says it keeps her nice and warm without itching, and the grafting is pretty well hidden when she wears it. So far, the pilling has not proved to be as much of a problem as I feared.

I didn’t mention the cables! They were actually super easy to knit, but the key is to keep your stitch loose. I’m still working on that as a relative newbie.

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