Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (and Hazelnut-Nutella Sandwich Cookies)

I. Love. Nutella. I love it so much that I have never been tempted to try to make my own -- after all, why should I when the store-bought version is already perfection? But I finally gave it a try, because this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, "Chocolate Hazelnut Spread," is a homemade version of Nutella.

I had some raw blanched hazelnuts, so I got to skip the step of peeling the nuts (but I still had to toast them). Once the hazelnuts are ready, the recipe only takes a few minutes of quality time with your food processor. First, you grind the hazelnuts until they liquefy. Then you add sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and hazelnut oil. The recipe says to use three tablespoons of hazelnut oil (remarkably, I happened to have hazelnut oil on hand), and add more if needed to thin out the consistency. I ended up adding another tablespoon of oil to get a creamy spread.

I tasted the homemade spread head-to-head against real Nutella and I was reminded of Jeffrey Steingarten's ketchup taste test described in The Man Who Ate Everything. Using Heinz as his touchstone, he tasted 35 ketchups (including homemade) and assigned them to one of four categories: Worse Than Heinz, Heinz, Better Than Heinz, and Not Really Ketchup. I was thinking that there were only going to be three options for my chocolate hazelnut spread: Worse Than Nutella, As Good As Nutella, and Better Than Nutella.

Texturewise, the homemade spread was slightly gritty because grinding the hazelnuts in the food processor did not eliminate all of the tiny pieces of nuts in the finished spread. I definitely give the texture advantage to real Nutella, which is velvety smooth and creamy, with a luscious mouthfeel. Tastewise, real Nutella is more chocolate-y and the homemade spread was more hazelnut-y, but the homemade version is delicious. While I would happily eat either, I have to give the edge to the store-bought version because of its smooth texture. (The fact that the homemade version requires refrigeration is also a bit of a bummer.)

I wasn't quite sure what we would do with a large batch of homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, especially since the recipe said it would only keep for a couple of weeks. I thought about using it in Bill Yosses' recipe for Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Nutella, but then thought it would be a waste to mix into a dough where the taste of the spread might be lost. So I thought about using it as the filling for some sandwich cookies. I found a Food and Wine recipe for "Hazelnut-Nutella Sandwich Cookies" that was perfect.

I generally avoid roll and cut cookies because I find them to be a huge pain. But I would make roll and cut cookies all day long if they were as easy as these. I was a little worried when the dough looked dry, but after a quick chill (only 15 minutes!) I was able to effortlessly roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment, using no flour at all. Re-rolling the scraps was also a breeze.

I used a 2-inch diameter round cutter and got 64 cookies from the recipe. The recipe says to bake the cookies for 20 minutes, but I pulled my cookies after 13 minutes, when they were already golden brown. The cookies spread a little during baking (to a 2.5-inch diameter), but maintained their round shape. The cookies were all uniform and matched up perfectly to form beautiful sandwiches.

The sandwich cookies are the bomb. The cookies on their own are unbelievably delicious -- they taste like a sweet, toasted, crispy hazelnut. When sandwiched around the chocolate hazelnut spread, the cookies were over the top. These are some of the most delicious cookies I have ever made, and they taste as good plain as they do with the filling. I plan to make these amazing hazelnut sandwich cookies often -- although I will be skipping the step of making my own spread and filling them with store-bought Nutella from now on!

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Candy said…
I loved the gritty texture of the homemade version, but agree that Nutella has an amazing mouth feel.

The cookies look wonderful!
Rebecca said…
Not a Nutella fan but yours looks and sounds good. I will totally try those cookies.
Sheri said…
I might need to try those cookies - they sound great! I do like the lower sweetness factor of the homemade version.

I did mine in the food processor, but afterward I was thinking I should have put it in the Vitamix - might have gotten a better texture that way.
I wondered if homemade nutella would be as smooth as store bought. Love the cookies you made. I wonder if ths spread would be good mixed into ice cream. Oh, or make ice cream sandwiches with the hazelnut spread on each cookie. Hmm.
Anonymous said…
The cookies look awesome! :)
Chelly said…
Your spread looks great but the cookies look awesome! Yummy!
Unknown said…
i was surprised how much i liked this! currently brainstorming what to do with it...besides eat it out of the jar!