Lucas has developed a particular Italian habit since voyaging through Italy: Every few days he craves a Nutella breakfast... a couple of Mom's waffles from the freezer, toasted and spread with that oh-solo-mio good chocolate-hazelnut buttery Nutella. He's not alone. Nutella may have been born in Italy, but it's a product beloved by people all around the world.
It was Pietro Ferrero, a baker in Alba, Piedmont, the hazelnut capitol of Italy, who first created the solid Pasta Gianduja in 1946. This was the precursor of a much more creamy version he called Supercrema in 1951. By 1963, Ferrero's son Michele tinkered with the Supercrema recipe and developed what we now know as modern Nutella. It's popularity spread (pardon the pun) swiftly within a year throughout Europe.
Today many people around the world are over the top nutty over Nutella. For instance, recently in a family court in Valenciennes, France, a sensible judge ruled that a couple could not call their 4-month-old daughter "Nutella" because it was contrary to the girl's interest and "can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts." Since the otherwise excellent parents failed to show, the judge legally renamed her "Ella." (In France registrars must pass names of newborns before a judge to rule if the name is against the child's interests. I suppose it was best that I didn't name Lucas "Pizza"!)
Now many people think of Nutella as a totally healthy snack food. Think again. The main ingredients of Nutella are sugar, palm oil, hazelnut, cocoa, and skimmed milk (the latter being the only truly healthy ingredient). Ferrero uses so much hazelnuts that fully 25% of the world's supply is used to produce Nutella. Two tablespoons of the stuff contains 200 calories--99 of which come directly from saturated fat (palm oil is a real no-no for heart health). Here's a breakdown: 10.5 % saturated fat and 58% processed sugar. Each two tablespoons contains 11 grams of fat (3.5g saturated), 21 grams of sugar, 15 mg of sodium, and a mere 2g of protein (from the hazelnuts, which are also high in fat).
Now don't get me wrong, we use Nutella in our home. We like it, although I stay away from it (chocolate isn't good for me). But it has to be used in moderation. That's why I don't let Lucas eat it more than twice a week for breakfast... and even then, on only 1/2 of one of Lisa's leftover waffles that we keep in the freezer. In fact, Ferrero was party to a class action suit for false advertising in the U.S. for claims that Nutella had health benefits and was "part of a nutritious breakfast". In 2012 Ferrero paid a $3 million settlement (up to $4 per jar for up to five jars in returns by customers).
Because of this, Nutella is one of what we call "Once in a Blue Moon" foods in our pantry. I came up with the concept when Lucas was a toddler. We don't do fast food restaurants and try to make our meals from scratch at home. So, if you want to try using Nutella "Once in a Blue Moon", here are some recipes I collected for you to try:
Nutella Espresso Rolls
(from A Pastry Affair)
Yields 9 rolls
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk, barely warmed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and melted butter and allow to sit about 5-10 minutes until activated (looks frothy). Mix in the espresso powder, sugar, and egg. Gradually add in the flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense.
Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Alternatively, using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, or until elastic. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 2 hours.
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup (150 grams) nutella
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and espresso powder.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 11 by 15 inch rectangle. Spread the dough evenly with the nutella, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges Sprinkle on the brown sugar mixture. From the longer end, roll the dough very tightly until it forms a log. Cut off the ends of the dough and cut the log into 1 1/2-inch segments.
Place the rolls into a 10-inch round pan. Cover and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Alternatively, you can also make the rolls the night before and allow them to double in size in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 F). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Serve hot.
Nutella Cheesecake Squares
(from Coconut & Lime)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs,at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray with baking spray an 8x8 inch pan. In a small bowl, add the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, oats and salt, mix thoroughly with a fork. Press into bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten and press firmly. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and flour, beat until smooth. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the 8x8 inch pan. Add the Nutella into the remaining batter and mix thoroughly. Spread on top of the first cheesecake layer. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.
Nutella Fudge Pops
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