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An empiric study of Nutella Recipes

Nutella

Nutella is easily one of the most popular bread spreads in Europe. Anecdotic evidence suggests that France's crêpe business also heavily relies on it. And yet, Nutella has a number of drawbacks:

Hence the idea to produce one's own Nutella.

Design alternatives

I made 10 kg of Nutella.
Nutella (or an alternative) revolves somehow around the following 4 components:
  1. Nuts.
  2. Cocoa.
  3. Fat. Fat is needed to hold the Nutella together, and to give it its creamy consistence.
  4. Sugar. Sugar is needed to make the Nutella sweet, because the other components are neutral or bitter.
These ingredients allow for quite some variations. I have conducted a systematic scientific study of design alternatives, in which human guinea pigs were subjected to half a dozen variations of the recipe. I report the results here.

  1. Nuts
    1. Hazelnuts
      Hazelnuts are the main advertised ingredient of Nutella. You need them if you want something similar.
      1. Roasted hazelnuts give a Nutella-specific aftertaste. I recommend them.
      2. Non-roasted hazelnuts do not have this property, and I recommend against them.
      It is difficult to find roasted hazelnuts in powder form. You have two options:
      1. Buy roasted hazelnuts, and grind them to powder in a blender. This works only if you have a blender that is strong enough to grind them to powder. A weak blender will merely make small pieces.
      2. Buy grind hazelnuts, and roast them in the oven. I recommend 140°C for about 10 minutes.
    2. Walnuts
      Walnuts can supplement hazelnuts, see below. I did not try using them alone.
    3. Coconuts
      Coconuts, likewise, can supplement hazelnuts. Taken alone, without the hazelnuts, they will give a very strong taste.
    4. Almonds
      Almonds can substitute the hazelnuts.
  2. Cocoa
    1. 100% Cocoa seems the most natural choice here. It can be bought in the baking ressort of supermarkets.
  3. Fat
    1. Colza oil is the oil with least self-taste. It is the safest alternative. It also has virtually no saturated fat, if this is something you care about.
    2. Coconut oil also works well. However, it gives a supplementary taste of coconuts, which not everybody likes. I personally like it. Apart from that, it is consists nearly exclusively of saturated fat, which is considered unhealthy.
    3. Butter gives an additional buttery taste. Crucially, it may spoil. I recommend against it.
    4. The fatty component can also be replaced by a combination of chocolate bars + butter + milk. This combination gives the best consistency. However, it has two problems: First, it requires an additional step of heating the mixture. Second, it leaves an empty aftertaste. I thus recommend against it.
  4. Sugar
    1. Real sugar leaves crystals in the cream. This is an interesting effect, but ultimately rather distracting. I recommend against it.
    2. Stevia is a sugar alternative. It is currently under investigation, and I decided against it until it is known to be safe.
    3. Ice sugar is fine-grained sugar with 4% starch in order to avoid blobs. It is the easiest alternative.
  5. Optional supplementary ingredients:
    1. Vanilla: not tested

In all of the following, the recipe consists of throwing all components into a blender and mixing them for a few seconds. If you open the blender too early, the mixture will still be much like power. Have faith, blend a bit more, until it melds into a creamy mass. No other intervention is needed. Weights are given for 400g.

Coconut oil recipe

  1. Cocoa: 15% (60g)
    More cocoa makes the result too bitter for my taste. Less than 10% makes the Nutella taste more like nut cream.
  2. Coconut oil: 25% (100g)
    20% is too few, and the Nutella becomes crumbly. 30% is too much, and the Nutella becomes too fatty.
  3. Ice sugar: 30% (120g)
    25% does not make it sweet enough. 30% was considered an upper bound for health reasons.
  4. Hazelnuts: 30% (120g)
    The rest...

This recipe uses coconut oil, and thus gives a Nutella with coconut flavor. The result is tasty, but also fatty and sugary.

Walnut recipe

If you want to reduce sugar, you have to increase the other ingredients. However, increasing the hazelnuts makes the Nutella too nutty, increasing cocoa makes it too bitter, and increasing fat makes it too fatty. Hence, add walnuts. Also, replace coconut oil by the more healthy colza oil. This yields:
  1. Hazelnut: 30% (120g)
  2. Cocoa: 10% (40g)
  3. Colza oil: 20% (80g)
  4. Ice sugar: 20% (80g)
  5. Walnuts: 20% (80g)

This recipe yields a Nutella with a pleasant walnut aftertaste.

Almond recipe

  1. Rasped almonds: 50% (200g)
  2. Cocoa: 10% (40g)
  3. Colza oil: 20% (80g)
  4. Ice sugar: 20% (80g)

This recipe yields an almond-Nutella. Surprisingly, it tastes not much different from the walnut recipe — but it is easier to make because it has one less ingredient.

Coconut recipe

  1. Hazelnut: 30% (120g)
  2. Cocoa: 10% (40g)
  3. Colza oil: 20% (80g)
  4. Ice sugar: 20% (80g)
  5. Coconut rasps: 20% (80g)

This recipe yields a Nutella with a strong coconut taste. It tastes very rich, but is also quite heavy.

Conservation

This Nutella (in all variants) has the following properties:
  1. My Nutella has been living for several weeks on a shelf in a cold room (<20° Celsius) without spoiling.
  2. The Nutella can be produced without any oven, pan, or manual labor.
  3. The Nutella has the right consistence only at moderate room temperature!