The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!
While I was giving my blog a makeover, I was also doing a spring cleaning of our kitchen. We’ve been in our new home for almost a year and a half now – not really a new home anymore, is it? Certainly not judging by how overflowing all the cabinets and closets appear; one glance and you’d think we’d been hoarding here for years.
No matter how assiduously one tries to keep order in the pantry, there are always a few rogue items that manage to find their way astray – forgotten spices, half-used bags of specialty flours, bottles of food coloring in all the least-wanted hues. I try to go through the back of my cupboards every couple of months just to root out orphaned items, and perhaps find some inspiration – or at least impetus to not let ingredients go to waste.
So it was this time I opened a cabinet door and found three jars of Nutella staring me in the face. I have no idea how we ended up with three jars of this hazelnut spread: Costco delirium, perhaps. But I knew we really didn’t need that much Nutella around. What to make? A thought came to mind, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while – macarons made with hazelnuts instead of almonds. (Aside: if you’re just looking for the giveaway, it’s at the bottom of the post!)
Fortunately, having figured out the Italian meringue method for macarons, I found it easily adaptable to hazelnuts. On skinning hazelnuts: yes, those skins can be annoyingly stubborn. Toasting the hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, and then rubbing then briskly in a towel, should shed those skins fairly quickly. There is also an alternative method: place the hazelnuts in a saucepan and fill with 1 1/2 cups water and 2 tablespoons baking soda for every 1/2 cup of nuts. Bring the mixture to a boil and let sit for 3 minutes; the water will turn black from the tannins in the hazelnut skins. Drain the saucepan and run the nuts under cold water to stop them cooking. The skins should slip right off. This method seems much more complicated than the first, but it does ensure completely skin-free nuts. As you can see from my photos, I was clearly not a total success at eliminating all the skins.
Other than substituting hazelnuts for the almonds, the entire macaron exercise proceeded without deviation (and without much stress, amazingly!) With the kitchen smelling nicely of toasted hazelnuts and a tray of prettily rounded shells, I was about to pull out the Nutella when I had the thought…what about making Nutella with the remaining hazelnuts?
Nutella is the glorious combination of chocolate and hazelnuts – couldn’t be too hard to duplicate, right? I was helped along by David Leibovitz’s stellar post, as well as a recipe in the Flour cookbook for a homemade Nutella tart. The final concoction is a sort-of ganache of cream, chocolate, and ground hazelnuts. The ground hazelnuts – hazelnut butter, really, is essential to giving the mixture its robust, nutty flavor. Although it’s nearly impossible to grind them fine enough so that there aren’t little fine bits of nut left, I think it lends the spread an interesting, more rustic texture. The Flour cookbook calls for infusing hot cream with the hazelnuts, which does help add another layer of flavor, but it’s really the ground hazelnuts that do the job. The mix of dark and milk chocolates with the hazelnuts alchemizes into the oh-so-familiar sweet, creamy, Nutella-y flavor. I was really happy with the spreadable consistency and how fresh it tasted. Sandwiched between hazelnut shells, you probably can’t find a more fragrant macaron.
“But wait!” you say? “What about all those jars of actual Nutella you were trying to use up?” Yes…those jars…which were supposed to be the inspiration for this recipe so I could use them up, are still sitting in the cupboard untouched. Does anyone want a jar of Nutella?
Giveaway update: Thanks to everyone who has written in and commented and made me feel so welcome in my new space! I will announce the winner of the Williams-Sonoma giftcard on Thursday. Meanwhile, I have another giveaway! I will be attending Pebble Beach Food & Wine this Friday and Saturday. I went last year to this most luxe of food events and had a spectacular time, so I’m thrilled to be invited again this year! Tickets are still available for the Grand Tasting and many of the chef events; check out the website for the full rundown.
Lexus, one of the main sponsors of PBFW, is introducing its new Culinary Masters Team at the event. The team members include acclaimed Chefs Daniel Boulud, Michael Chiarello, Dean Fearing, Christopher Kostow, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon (It’s literally dizzying the superstars you run into at PBFW). To celebrate the new team, Lexus and I are giving away four sets of team aprons and totes (see images below). The aprons will be signed by all six chefs – nice collector’s item!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning one of four sets of apron + tote, just leave a comment on this post naming your favorite chef (you can pick one of the six Culinary Masters, or anyone else). I’ll pick four winners at random and announce the winners next Monday May 30. Good luck!
Italian Meringue Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- 200g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 200g confectioners’ sugar
- 200g sugar
- 50g water
- 150g egg whites, divided into two 75g portions
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- 1/2 cup (70 g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 2 ounces semisweet/bittersweet chocolate
- 1 cup (240 g) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the macarons:
- Stack two baking trays on top of each other. Line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Process hazelnuts with confectioners’ sugar in a food processor. Sieve out any large bits of hazelnut.
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat on medium until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Meanwhile, place 75g of egg whites in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.
- Continue cooking until the sugar syrup reaches 118 C/245 F. While the sugar is cooking, begin whisking the egg whites. They should reach stiff peaks by the time the syrup is at 245 F. If it whips too fast, turn down or turn off the mixer.
- Turn the mixer speed to low. Carefully pour the sugar syrup in a slow stream into the mixer.
- Turn the mixer speed to high and let the meringue for several minutes until it has cooled and appears glossy and firm.
- In a large bowl, combine the hazelnut mixture with the remaining 75g of egg whites until partially combined.
- Scoop the meringue on top of the hazelnut mixture. Using a spatula or dough scraper, carefully fold the meringue in, trying not to deflate it.
- The final batter should be thick and flow slowly like magma. Do not overmix.
- Scoop the batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½” diameter plain tip.
- Pipe 1 ½” rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Let the sheets sit for about 20 minutes to let the shells harden.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 C/320 F.
- Bake one set of macarons for 15 minutes, rotating once.
- Let tray cool for a few minutes before removing from the silicone mat. Let finish cooling on wire racks.
For the hazelnut spread:
- Place hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until nuts are ground into a paste.
- Place both chocolates in a metal bowl and place on another saucepan of simmering water. Stir chocolate occasionally until fully melted.
- Place cream in a clean saucepan and bring just to a boil on the stove over medium high heat.
- Stir cream into chocolate until fully combined. Add ground hazelnuts and salt and stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into a container and chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours until it has firmed up slightly and can be spread.