I’ve met people who eat chocolate every day, survive on chocolate when depressed, and smoke chocolate after sex. You know those people. Perhaps you are one. Well, not me, I’m stronger than that. Chocolate can’t take me on its own—it takes two to take me down. Caramel plus chocolate works. Almonds can help out. Recently I tried a matcha dark milk chocolate bar that made my knees wobble.
And God help me when chocolate teams up with hazelnut. If chocolate and hazelnut ran a cult together, I’d shave my head, buy a robe, and get a tattoo. Chocolate and hazelnut make me run in circles and howl at the moon. Tease me with gianduja or Nutella and I’ll transform into a raving chocelnut girl, a hazelolate slut, a nutty drooling wench powerless in the face of my desire. You know you can dip strawberries in Nutella? You can dip anything in Nutella. Believe me, I know. My cats are still pissed.¹
It never occurred to me to combine chocolate and hazelnuts myself until my cookbook ban lifted and a sexy copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop finally arrived. I happened to have a bulk quantity of shelled whole hazelnuts and a supply of Green & Blacks milk chocolate and Michel Cluizel milk chocolate in my pantry. Since the word “fate” gets thrown around too casually, I won’t claim that I made the gelato due to fate. I made the gelato because I love chocolate with hazelnuts and had the stuff around to make it. It’s not a romantic story, but when your most enduring love affair so far has been with a sweet creamy chocolate nut spread, you work with what you have.
By the way, if you live near an Aldi, they sell an excellent trans fat-free chocolate hazelnut spread for a third of the cost of Nutella. I mention this because if I’m going down, damn it, I’m taking everybody with me.
I’d post a recipe, but others have already done so with yummy pictures of their own, so by all means, give them a visit. It’s not a simple recipe. The hazelnuts must be toasted and skinned, then ground and soaked in milk. Then you strain the nuts out and throw the nuts away. I can’t tell you how traumatizing this is. You spent all this time with them and then…toss them? Well it turns out that their flowery fragrant spirit is still there, steeped into the hot milk mixture, so just do what I did—wipe away the tears and steel yourself with the knowledge that it will all work out for the best.
David recommends 5 ounces of melted chocolate for the straccciatella, the melted chocolate that is poured into the churning ice cream where it hardens and breaks into delicious little bits. I found that much dark chocolate a little too overpowering. Next time I make this—and there will definitely be a next time—I plan to drop amount that down to 3 ounces. Then I’ll dip everything, including myself, into a vat of Nutella.
· David Lebovitz on gianduja from the source
· David’s gianduja gelato at butter sugar flour with rippled chocolate sauce
· …at Cookie Baker Lynn in its simplest form, sans straccciatella
· …and at Cafe Fernando between crisp wafers