There are many ingredients that you can easily obtain if you work in the restaurant industry and have connections with food purveyors, yet you can’t possibly get them in your local grocery store. One of those items is Hazelnut Butter (often called hazelnut paste). My local organic grocery store has Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Macadamia Nut Butter, and Soy Nut Butter. No Hazelnut Butter! One of my more popular bite sized treats are Nutella Balls, which require Hazelnut Butter.
I’m a huge advocate of making everything from scratch. In most cases, it is a healthier habit and more economical than purchasing prepared food from the store. So I decided to try my hand at making my own Hazelnut Butter. The process of making any nut butter is extremely simple. Toast the whole hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven until golden brown (10-15 minutes). While the nuts are warm, rub them between your hands or in a towel to remove all of the skins. Place the warm nuts in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. With the processor still running, slowly drizzle in enough vegetable oil to make the paste a spreadable consistency.
Well, in theory it is simple task, but in practice it was quite time consuming and frustrating. Have you ever tried peeling the skins off hazelnuts?! Go ahead, try. They don’t want to give them up! It took forever and I finally surrendered after awhile and cried “close enough”! I threw them into my “cuisinart” mixer (can’t afford a real one) with a few skins still stubbornly attached and proceeded to grind them. It turned out to be extremely difficult to get a smooth paste out of those nuts. (That could have been due to the lack of power in my “cuisinart”.) I finally produced a paste close to what I was looking for and tasted it. Those few lingering skins that I left in there ended up giving the butter a slight bitter taste. Now you and I know, it is important to remove all of the pesky skins from the nuts!
You may ask, “was it worth it?” To which I would have to reply “NO”! The day I see hazelnut butter on the grocery store shelf, I will buy it, rather than going through that process again! Plus I’m not sure I saved any money. If the price of hazelnut butter is anything like the price of almond butter, I spent more on the whole nuts than I would have for a jar.
I did still use the hazelnut butter in my Nutella Balls recipe, and they still tasted fine (I had to adjust them a bit). That recipe will come at a later time. :)