I bet at least a couple of you just gasped.
I’d also be willing to best that most vegans have spent at least a couple moments poring over the “accidentally vegan” list of products that surprisingly and for whatever reason don’t actually contain any dairy or animal products.. looking for Nutella to magically appear alongside Nutter Butters. Alas.. no dice. While we never expected Nutella to be healthy, it does indeed contain “non-fat milk solids” (yum!) and its number 1 ingredient is sugar, followed very devotedly by vegetable oil. Double yum!
Having basically coated my stomach from top to bottom in Nutella during our less-than-vegan honeymoon (I know.) to Europe, though, the craving followed me back across the Atlantic. Solution? Homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread, vegan style!
Not only is this homemade Nutella vegan, you actually know what’s going in it.. and so you don’t feel quite so bad smothering your toast (or cereal.. whatever, I don’t judge) in the stuff for breakfast, followed by a breakfast-dessert of a spoonful straight from the jar. Of course, I wouldn’t confuse this vegan Nutella with health food.. but it’s certainly not nearly as bad as the creepily shelf-stable stuff at the store! And no cows’ lives were ruined in the making, which makes it just that much better.
You’ll love the rich nuttiness of the toasted hazelnuts and how the flavor dances brilliantly with heady dark chocolate, the bitterness balanced a bit of agave nectar and aromatic vanilla. I replaced the vegetable oil with melted coconut oil because, well, I don’t even really know where vegetable oil comes from (you ever squeezed oil out of a zucchini?) and the very subtle aroma works so nicely with the overall richness. This, my friends, is Nutella. You’re welcome.
Plus, did you know that coconut oil is actually considered to have multiple health benefits? I don’t think that means we should all go guzzle a cup, but it’s been shown to contain a unique combination of fatty acids that boast medicinal properties and its medium-chain triglycerides can actually help you increase energy expenditure compared to other longer chain fats. For more health benefits of coconut oil, check out this article at Authority Nutrition!
This vegan Nutella recipe keeps on the counter in an air-tight jar for a couple weeks, so you don’t even have to shovel the batch down before it goes bad.. though I would not recommend you chance it. Just saying.
Make this! You’ll freak out.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven about 12 minutes, until they've browned a bit and the skins are blistering in places. Let cool a bit then peel skins off--they should come off easily, and if you have trouble, try wrapping them in a kitchen towel and rubbing vigorously. Don't worry if not ALL of the skins come off--it's bound to happen and a few rogue skins won't affect the outcome.
In a double-boiler or in the microwave, melt the chopped chocolate completely. Let cool 4-5 minutes, meanwhile..
In a food processor or high-speed blender like a VitaMix, grind the hazelnuts until they form a paste. Add the liquid coconut oil, agave nectar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt and process until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the melted chocolate and blend well. If desired, strain (I didn't, but I don't mind tiny pieces of hazelnuts remaining.. and am also quite lazy, as is O, who would be doing the inevitably funky dishes from much Nutella-straining)
If too thick, stir in a bit of alt-milk until you reach the desired texture. If your Nutella is a bit thin, it will thicken up as it cools. Scrape your Nutella into an air-tight jar and let cool completely. Will keep at room temperature for 2 weeks.
Adapted loosely from the Splendid Table