Homemade Nutella and Gratitude

Chocolate and hazelnuts, beautifully blended

Chocolate and hazelnuts, beautifully blended

I am overwhelmingly grateful when anyone visits LuvCooks. I am blown away when someone sees a recipe and makes it (shout out to @laurietindol!) and astounded when another blogger mentions the site in one of their posts.

Recently Rachel at Derivative Dishes nominated LuvCooks for a Liebster award. Having no idea what a Liebster award was, I embarrassingly asked her about the stipulations for this prize. It turns out it’s a great way to welcome and highlight other blogs in our Creative world. As part of the process, I was also asked to respond to a list of questions Rachel sent, then nominate other blogs I follow that should recieve the award.

I have so many talented friends, I wish that I could gather them all up and introduce you; my friend Melissa, who loves cats and can bake like nobody’s business. Or Stephen, whose ability to light and capture food astounds me. Or my boyfriend Jake whose Creative talent truly knows no bounds. But alas, the inter webs separate us, and this will have to do for now (unless someone comes up with the aforementioned posted magic carpet).

And, you should follow all of these wonderful people! Feeling Full, Jacob Blount, Stephen Devries Photography, Kinora Films,  Emily Cooks Vegan, Twin Days, Chew Out Loud, Create and Place, The Dreamery

Rachel’s questions:

  1.  What inspires you? Beauty! In all of it’s forms. And fun, and dancing. Lots of it.
  2.  Anthony Bourdain or Mario Batali? I am obsessed with Anthony Bourdain. As in, a day without No Reservations/The Layover/Parts Unknown is no way to live.
  3. What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had? I have a complete inability to hide the face I make when things taste bad. So more than likely I have blocked this meal out of my mind.
  4. What’s your favorite cookbook of all time? I adore cookbooks! My top three: America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook , The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farms, and for her hilarious story-telling and all-around fabulousness Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen
  5. What are you looking forward to right now? A Mexican fiesta tonight at Señor Taco with my sister.
  6. What do you think about when you’re cooking? I think about the people I am cooking for. I love anticipating how they will respond to the food, and the simple joy of spending time with them.
  7. What is your favorite thing to cook? Baking. Brownies. Chocolate anything.
  8. What is the last great meal you had? I had a fantastic six-course meal and wine-pairing at Veranda in Birmingham‎, hosted by their sommelier and head chef. Braised shot ribs, quail- it was a dream.
  9. What have you not tried to cook but think you need to make? I need to figure out how to make Ossobuco. Because it sounds both fancy and delicious.
  10. What about the kitchen intimidates you? Other people’s kitchens intimidate me. As weird as that sounds, I feel so at home in my own, I always feel a bit unnerved in another persons’ space.
  11. What’s the most embarrassing kitchen moment you’ve ever had? Oh gracious, there are too many to count! Probably the time I was making boxed macaroni and cheese and caught a dish towel on fire.

Questions for my blogger pals:

1. What is your go-to comfort food?

2. French roast, Keurig, Chemex, pour-over, Nespresso, or drip (coffee)?

3. Your favorite kitchen condiment, go!

4. If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

5. Bizarre Foods or Chopped?

6. Number #1 reason why Alton Brown would help you make better life choices.

7. Your favorite holiday movie?

8. What is your biggest challenge in food-blogging?

9. What are four of your favorite online recipe resources?

10. Name your favorite season and it’s accompanying ingredient.

And finally, back to gratefulness: I am also consistently grateful for food, friends, and family, and this homemade chocolate hazelnut spread (aka Nutella) recipe encompasses all of these things. Nutella is one of life’s pleasures, and this recipe by Giada at Food Network is SO delicious. By roasting the hazelnuts in the skins before you blend them, it adds a whole new dimension to the roasted flavor of the spread, and the addition of quality melted chocolate and honey sweetens the deal. I made this for a friend of mine and could not keep my spoon out of the food processor (don’t worry Court, #nodoubledipping).  This is also a great addition to any New Year’s Eve spread. Serve it with chocolate or honey graham crackers, apple slices, or hot chocolate, or blend it into a post- New Year’s bash smoothie.

Cheers to the best year yet, and to more amazing tastes, friendships, and adventures in the year to come.

Homemade Nutella (taken from Giada’s version here)

What You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (3 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts, toasted (about 4 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, such as Eagle Brand
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

What You Will Do

1. To toast your hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the hazelnuts (skins on) in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Bake them for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly toasted. (Just watch these; I baked mine for a little less time because they got toasted pretty quickly.) Cool completely, then rub the skins off with your fingers.

3. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 45 seconds. Stir. Put the bowl back in for 10-15 second intervals, stirring after every trip in the microwave, until smooth. Be careful to not overheat your chocolate; it can get angry and seize up on ya. Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

4. Grind the nuts in a food processor until pasty (the nuts will be stuck to the sides of work bowl), 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

5. Add the condensed milk, honey and salt. Blend well, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and pulse until combined. Transfer the spread to a small bowl.

6. Now try not to eat all of this in one sitting. Enjoy and Happy New Year!!