Sunday, 30 January 2011

Notella success amid my failures

It hasn't been a great week in the kitchen for chocolate experiments. Brownie, pizza and scones have all gone awry. I have told myself that mistakes are a good learning experience but I still prefer a success. Fortunately I have had the consolation of a wonderful chocolate hazelnut spread made in my own kitchen. Call it nutella or notella or what you will.

Firstly I tried Hannah's raw brownies. She raved about them. They looked amazing. I had to try them. I wanted to use up all the dried dates in my cupboard rather than buying medjool dates. Big mistake! I have now learnt that medjool dates give the caramelly flavour. I also didn't measure the ingredients for the avocado frosting and forgot the vanilla essence. This didn't help either.

E was not impressed. He told me, accompanied by his ukelele strumming, that brownies should be warm and gooey not cold. I still have faith in the possibilities of the recipe. Not only does it seem a healthy alternative to rich decadent brownies but, on a 40 C day, I love the idea of bypassing a hot oven. I hope to revisit these someday having learnt my lesson the hard way.

Next I tried Ricki's Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. It took a while to find the hazelnut butter but I found some at the Vic Market nut shop opposite the borek stall. I mixed the hazelnut butter, coconut oil, cocoa and some maple syrup. Tasted ok but not quite sweet enough. I added some agave and it was too sweet. I thought it was another failure and added more cocoa. Hmmm! Maybe more experimenting is needed with cocoa and sweetener balance for me.

Both taste and texture need to be right with notella. Mine was not nearly as creamy as Ricki's. Then I reread her recipe and put it in the food processor. She says to process it for a long time. I don't think I am as patient as Ricki and I felt too guilty at the noise while E was trying to read stories to Sylvia. Even so, it was far more creamy than my first attempt at vegan notella.

Then came my ideas for how to use the notella. I have long wanted to make pumpkin scrolls with nutella inside them. After my fruit mince scrolls success I decided to try these with pumpkin scone dough and my home made notella. First sign that it wasn't working so well was when I tried to spread the notella over the dough. It wasn't really creamy enough.

The scrolls came out of the oven looking good. But the notella didn't really work with the pumpkin scone dough. It dried out a bit and fell away in chunks when eating the scrolls. Even worse was the taste which was a little dark and not quite sweet enough to work in the scroll. I love the pumpkin scones so much that I still enjoyed them (as did Sylvia) but more work is needed before I post a recipe.

My final failure was a pizza. I made a version of Katie's pronto pizza dough (with double the dough but only 1 tsp of yeast). The pizza was great, no doubt thanks to it having to sit while Sylvia needed a cuggle. But the notella again proved unspreadable, not sweet enough and dried out too much in the oven. I didn't have enough blueberries either. Nutella pizza has been something I have wanted to try for ages. Now I want to try again.

So you may be wondering what to do with this notella. Well, it tastes excellent eaten straight off the spoon. When I was at school we were sold small packages of nutella with plastic spoons so I assume this is one way nutella is meant to be eaten. I also think it would work well as a sauce. My other notella attempt was great served with a pear cake and I have seen Ricki use nut spreads as sauce for pancakes.

I still have some notella in the fridge for eating and experiments. Maybe I will just eat it or maybe there will be some successes with it that I can share. Meanwhile I wanted to send the notella to Ricki and Kim for their SoS Kitchen Challenge blog event which is focused on coconut oil this month.

I am also sending the picture of my pumpkin notella scone to the Bake Lady for her scone event. I love scones and wanted to participate but have been cutting back on my baking. When I am baking I have found myself returning to some favourite recipes already blogged, such as my pumpkin scones. It is a recipe I wanted to share, even if I don't quite recommend baking it with this notella. Check out the round up of scones on the BakeLady's blog.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Notella)
adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs

250g hazelnut butter (mine had a few cashew nuts in it)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa (or to taste)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp agave syrup (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla essence

Mix hazelnut butter, coconut oil, 2 tbsp cocoa, maple syrup and vanilla essence in the food processor. Check for sweetness and add a tsp of agave at a time and extra cocoa to get your desired taste, depending on whether you love it more or less sweet and dark. Blend until mixture is smooth and quite liquid - this can take some time. Transfer into a tub with a lid and store in the fridge. I have found that mine needs to soften a little before eating either by sitting at room temperature a while or a gentle burl in the microwave.

On the stereo:
The colour of black is black: Stephen Harrison


  1. I always find that chocolate is kind of finicky to work with in the kitchen and I've had my fair share of chocolate failures! As for this homemade nutella, I'll just eat it by the spoonful!

  2. Oh, successes and failures seem to run through my kitchen just as often. It is always nice to see other people's "flops" - even though yours LOOK delicious! - because it makes me feel better about making them myself! Your version of Ricki's notella look sgreat!

    Don't forget to enter your recipe in the LInky!!!!!! You aren't eligible for the giveaway or included in the round up unless you enter your recipe.

    xo Kim

  3. I tried to make a chocolate and sunflower seed spread last week, it would not grind properly, I added a dash of olive oil the it was really bitter so I added a little maple syrup and it spilt. Horrible.

    The notella looks great. I shall have to perservere. Practice makes perfect and all of that!

  4. I love the fact that you have shared the failure along with the success!


  5. Hi Johanna, thanks so much for visiting me at The Kitchenmaid. I love your blog (which I found via Choclette et al) but since I do most of my blog reading with a small child on my knee I don't get to comment (or visit) as much as I'd like!
    Well done you for persevering with this - I've been having a few disasters lately too so I know how it feels! Still, your Notella looks pretty good to me (esp eaten off a spoon...). Good luck with using the rest of the jar! Lucy

  6. ah yes- the warmer temps have certainly played havoc with my chocolate use lately!!!

  7. We all have our failures!

    Have you considered making your own nut butters. Quite easy but you do need the patience :)

  8. I can't stop giggling about the raw brownie photo, even though I know I shouldn't! It's so crumbly and dry, and the icing looks rock hard?! You have a talent there, my dear Johanna ;)

    Honestly, though, I'm so impressed that when you make things like the notella, you actually try to use it in recipes. I was actually going to make a chocnut spread this morning but then I decided I need to stop posting about condiments when I only eat them with a spoon :D (So I made snack balls instead)

    Thank you for postingthe failures as well as successes - it's good to know I'm not the only person who makes mistakes!

  9. I admire your tenacity, Johanna. I'm afraid I would have given up right from the get go.

    A lesson learned is always a success when shared with others. Thanks for that!!!

    P.S. I hope to be emailing you one day this week. I found a few duplicate books in my collection you might find interesting...

  10. I tried hannahs brownies too and didn't mind them. I like the caramelly taste of Medjool dates though. I still have some in the freezer ready to snack from at any time!

  11. Thanks Joanne - chocolate is so good when it works and so horrid when it doesn't - but am glad it was cocoa rather than chocolate that went into these recipes

    Thanks Kim - glad it is comforting for others to see my flops - and have put up my linky - am very late for SOS challenge this month but just got there

    Thanks Helen - good to hear I am not alone in food going wrong - try the notella if you get the chance - and yes perseverance is powerful - I loved your recent post about persevering with pastry and thought so many successful people I admire got there by practicing and just doing it

    Thanks Brownievillegirl - the failures make successes all the sweeter :-)

    Thanks Kitchen Maid - lovely to hear from you - I do a lot of reading while battling a small child who is eager to thump my keyboard so I am very understanding of how there are limits to how much you can surf and comment - glad to report the spoonfuls of notella are excellent so the jar will not last long - now that is success!

    Thanks Lisa - I think Canberra has had it worse than us but our fridge is being pushed to the limit with the heat because it is full of stuff I would normally keep at room temp - esp our chocolate!!!

    Thanks Girl on raw - I love the idaa of home made nut butter but never thought my food processor capable even if I had the patience

    Thanks Hannah - I was really pleased when E said the mixture looked like dirt because you said it should but I was less pleased when the final brownie still looked like dirt:-( Funny you feel you shouldn't just eat condiments on a spoon because I sometimes worry I make them too complex in using them in recipes - though I had intended some more recipes for the notella that might not happen because it is very good off the spoon

    Thanks Louise - a love of baking with chocolate keeps me going :-) am curious to hear about your surplus books!

    Thanks Lorraine - I must get some medjool dates - don't think I have ever had them - am a little jealous of your freezer now!

  12. Straight from the spoon is the best way to eat any chocolate spread ;)

  13. I always get quiote disheartened when things don't work for me the first time. I need to learn the art of 'under development' lol. But hey, notella - a total success! Will be giving this a try for sure.
    PS - I have a batch of mincemeat muffins in the oven as I type from your post on the 18th Jan. They smell sooooo good I can't wait for them to hurry up and bake!

  14. Nutella eaten straight off the spoon? That doesn't sound like a failure at all! :)

    PS: I was comforted to read this post. Sometimes, I think I'm the only one that is constantly saddled with disaster :)

  15. Thanks Rachel - spoon is best but I keep seeing recipes I want to try! Then I don't have energy and just return to spooning it straight from the tub

    Thanks chele - like the idea of failures as just work in progress and hope you love the notella and the muffins - I can smell them now that you mention them and they are great

    Thanks Lawyer Loves Lunch - does seem good to share the odd disaster but I'll keep a few quiet :-)

  16. I would say you made it a definite success in the end! I actually put my notella in the blender AFTER I use the food processor to really, really smooth it out. ;) But it tastes good either way. And the scrolls look good, even if you weren't fussy on them. I was wondering what the difference was between a roll (as in cinnamon roll) and scroll? Anyway, thanks for submitting this to the Challenge (even though I'm so late on commenting that it's now over!)

  17. Thanks Ricki - I think you say roll and I say scroll - I would call them cinnamon scrolls - well we always called them coffee scrolls when i was young but they didn't have coffee so I think they were similar to cinnamon rolls.

  18. Too bad about the brownies, they sound like they would be really good. And good to know about the type of date being important! I love how you tried to use the notella in so many different ways! I've never heard of a nutella pizza..


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)