20 February 2014

Horton Hears the Vitamix | Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Today was Hoodie-Hoo Day, according to WellCat.

Alas, I wanted to finish one more thing...and one more thing...and one more thing at work, thus failing to observe it. Next year.

Speaking of observation, I was holding a bag for TC as we got ready to go somewhere the other day. Suddenly, I noticed myself saying the mantra, "May you be free of suffering | and the cause of suffering" in my head over and over again while he tied his shoes or something like that. Mantras are mind protectors, as Ram Dass reminds us in this post. I'm no expert or arhat, but I've noticed more and more often that when my mind is scrambling before a transition even as minor as a car trip, I'll be saying mantras (Buddhist mantras or Catholic prayers) without thinking about it. Kinda cool, huh? Maybe I'm finally learning to self-regulate emotionally.

There are a lot of changes I'm making digitally around here. Pardon the pixel dust. Most of the time reserved for composing this post was instead spent figuring out new features and condensing old ones. Like the blog page on Facebook, yes no?

Today's recipe was vegan chocolate hazelnut spread. Otherwise known as "vegan Nutella(R)." While I love the Vitamix to bits, this recipe really requires a food processor. The Vitamix simply isn't wide enough to process 2 cups of hazelnuts, even after toasting them to soften 'em a little. I didn't want to brick my machine and stopped short of smoothness. I like my peanut butter chunky, my tea black, and my salad undressed, so textured spread isn't so bad.

I skipped blanching/skinning the hazelnuts. According to this 2012 article, hazelnut skins are one of the best sources of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants, chemicals which bind to free radicals. Free radicals occur as the body ages. I am going to stop trying to explain chemistry late at night. The point is, the hazelnut skins make the spread taste super-hazelnutty, and with the chocolate, there's no aesthetic consequence to leaving them on.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Modified from Brown Eyed Baker and Tales of a Kitchen

2 cups hazelnuts
1 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
dash sea salt
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened coconut-almond; using a blender necessitated this much liquid. Your mileage may vary.)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place hazelnuts in a pie plate in a preheating 350 degree oven.  Toast until fragrant, about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut sugar, cocoa, and salt.

Add hazelnuts to blender or food processor and blitz until hazelnut meal forms. Add the sugar, cocoa, and salt and blitz to combine. Depending on your machine, you may need to scrape down the sides or loosen up pockets of hazelnuts.  Add the oil and process it in.  Add the nondairy milk and vanilla and process until smooth/desired texture is achieved.  Store in jars in the fridge.

 Super-chocolate, super-hazelnut.

This was the end of the batch; note the hazelnut pockets from the corners of the Vitamix.

There's gonna be some good fancy oatmeal this week!
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