10.1.11

Pâte à Tartiner à la Noisette

Well! This was a big experiment and it was much more difficult than I imagined, and nearly ended in complete failure. But it didn't! It's good to remember how a cooking project gone wrong can be turned around. Persevere and succeed, my friends!

Today I attempted to translate a recipe from a French cooking magazine, (Vie Practique) and make it. Pâte à Tartiner à la Noisette is a chocolate and hazelnut spread; pretty much Nutella. I chose it as my first translation project because it looked "easy". Ha! Oh well, I learned.
Now, perhaps the French speakers out there will struggle with this less than I. I used a French-English dictionary and Google Translate  to figure the words I didn't know (which were many; my French is pretty bad) and I'm sure there were some discrepancies. Here is my translation: 


Okay, so here is my actual journey making it....


   Pâte à Tartiner à la Noisette
                                        

A few notes before we begin: I could not find powdered hazelnuts. I'm sure you can find it here in the US, but it must not be very common. Hence, this recipe will tell how to make it, but if you can find it, simply skip those steps and jump ahead in the recipe. Lucky you! Also, the original recipe calls for vanilla sugar, which I saw lots in English and French kitchens, but not so much here in the States. It's wonderful, I very much recommend you make some! Just add a split vanilla bean to an airtight jar of sugar. It will be fragrant and still subtle enough to be used in anything that requires sugar. Finally, the original recipe asks for 150 grams (over two sticks!) of margarine. I used butter instead, because I think margarine is disgusting, and I also recommend you reduce the amount by a little; during the "failure" stage of cooking this, it separated and I drained off heaps of butter. Two stick should be plenty.

Ingredients

1 heaped cup of dark chocolate
1 cup powdered hazenuts, or 1 scant cup whole hazelnuts
1 can sweetened condensed milk 
2 sticks butter 
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons hazelnut oil 

Preparation

First, make the hazelnut powder. Preheat your oven to 350 and toast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes. Slide them into a clean dishtowel and vigorously rub them so their skins slip off. Some stubborn skins will remain on; ignore them. The idea is to get most of them off. 

 Put the skinned hazelnuts in a coffee-grinder or a food processor. I was worried it would turn into a paste, so maybe I didn't grind them as finely as I could have. But let it become a powder.

Put the oven at 410. Take hazelnut powder, and then tip it all onto a small baking sheet or a ovenproof dish. Spread evenly and pop into the oven. Let it toast for about 8 minutes. (By the way, this smelled incredible)

Make a double boiler: heat a medium pot with about 2 cups of water and when it's come to a boil, put a heat proof mixing bowl on top of it. It should be big enough that it sits on the pot without you needing to hold it. Throw the chocolate and half of the butter into the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth.



 Add the rest of the butter, the almond powder, the vanilla sugar (or just plain sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract), the condensed milk, and the hazelnut oil. 

Stir constantly until it is smooth and thickened, but not for too long. The recipe says 10 minutes- that proved to be way too long for me. 

(Here comes the part where I thought it was all over...)

So, I took it off the stove and it was all separated, curdley looking,really dark and gloppy, sticky and was one unappetizing mass. I was really bummed, because it was going to be for the blog and I really didn't want my third blog entry to be something that got ruined, especially since I paid 12 dollars for a stupid bottle of hazelnut oil, etc. etc. (Yeah...expect to see a lot of hazelnut oil in the next few weeks)

So I made myself a cup of tea and was feeling sorry for myself, and suddenly it hit me: water! I poured some of the hot water from the kettle into the mess of chocolate and stirred with all my might. It was like magic. It suddenly looked like Nutella, smooth and brown and creamy. I was exhilarated. I threw it back over the heat for a minute or so just so it wasn't super watery and then poured it into glass jars, let them cool for a bit, and sealed it. 

Chocolate hazelnut spread! Hurray! It doesn't taste like Nutella, but I mean, it isn't Nutella. And besides, Nutella isn't French, it's Italian. But it's lovely, chocolately and has a nice hint of hazelnut. Would be nice on some soft bread, crepes, iced cream, or, let's be honest, with a spoon. It also would make a nice gift.  So try it out, and remember: MISTAKES CAN USUALLY BE FIXED!! Such a good thing to remember.


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