Time for another Secret Recipe Club! For those who haven’t seen my previous Secret Recipe Club posts, this club includes a group of bloggers who are assigned a different blog each month and secretly make a recipe to post on their specified reveal day. I look forward to my assignment email every month and discovering new blogs. It is also fun to see what someone chooses from your blog.
This month I was assigned to Hapa-tite. The author, Nicole, actually lives near me in the DC metro area. She named the blog after hapa and appetite. Hapa is a Hawaiian term that means half and is used in reference to people who are of mixed heritage and part Asian/Pacific Islander. In addition to her father’s Hawaiian family, Nicole also has Chinese, Cherokee, German, and and American ancestry. On her blog, you will find a mixture of recipes reflecting this melting pot. I particularly enjoyed her restaurant reviews and added a few to my list. I chose her recipe for Gianduja this month, but also pinned a few to try later: Sausage, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Flatbread, Green Tea Sandwich Cookies with Honey Cream Cheese Filling, Curried Chicken Lime Skewers with Lime-Apricot Glaze, Char Siu Chow Fun, Omuraisu, and Vietnamese Pork with Nuoc Cham.
Gianduja is an Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Spread that was the precursor to Nutella (originally called Pasta Gianduja). It was created in Turin, Italy in the mid-1800s as a way to extend the amount of chocolate available while the country had a shortage during the British blockade. In Italy, you can find Gianduja as a spread or a sliceable solid. This particular version is made by roasting hazelnuts, then processing until they become a paste. They are then mixed with dark chocolate, butter, and cream. It is spreadable when warm, but solidifies as it cools.
I used blanched hazelnuts so I didn’t have to remove the skins myself. If you are unable to find them pre-skinned (I have only seen them at Wegmans in my area), wrapping the nuts in a lightly damp towel for a minute after toasting creates steam to loosen the skins, then use a towel to rub them the rest of the way off.
I wanted to see how the spread did in baking so I used it to make Nutella-Nuss-Schnecken (German Nutella Nut Snail Pastries). I spread the Gianduja over a sheet of puff pastry, sprinkled it with some toasted chopped hazelnuts, rolled the pastry up, cut into rolls (snails), brushed the tops with an egg wash, and baked in a 350 degree F oven until golden. It was an easy and delicious mid-afternoon snack.
If you want a spread lighter on the chocolate, use a less percentage cocoa. I like the richness of extra dark chocolate.
This hardens into a paste when refrigerated. Let sit at room temperature for up to 4 hours or use a microwave safe container to reheat until smooth.
2 heaping cups whole hazelnuts, skins removed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pound dark chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and fragrant, 13-15 minutes.
In a food processor, blend the roasted hazelnuts and sugar until it becomes a smooth paste.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt until smooth using either the microwave in 20 second increments or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Transfer the melted chocolate to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a large bowl. Whisk in the butter, then the cream, salt, and smooth hazelnuts until blended.
Pour into containers, preferably glass, and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.