It's the most wonderful time of year! Fall colors, crisp air and football! Only I live in the bay area and, though it is now October, it is over 88 degrees and our summer is finally here. How am I supposed to enjoy my long awaited summer, when I am dying for it to be fall? It's the same thing with Christmas... it is still warm and sunny when christmas carols are playing on the radio and I am trying to get names crossed off my gift lists. As a transplanted Washingtonian, it's been hard for me to adjust to the holiday season with these fall and winter temperatures. The only way I can satisfy my longing for fall is through food these days! Miso Delicata Squash Salad for dinner and Toasted Hazelnut Chocolate Milk for dessert!
As I have said, I like fast, easy and foolproof recipes... this one started out that way, but ended up requiring some improvising on my part after things went wrong. My recipe is taken from Smitten Kitchen and the adaption only takes place in the technique... but you will see below... it got messy, but then yummy... so keep reading!
2 Cups of Hazelnuts
1 /14 Cups of Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I ended up using bittersweet)
3 1/2 Cups of Water, plus more for soaking
Note: The hazelnuts need to soak in a bowl of water overnight
Cheat Note: I bought toasted hazelnuts so that I could skip that step. I have no idea if that takes away from the intensity of the flavor.
If you are like me, and can't seem to toast nuts without burning them every time, then buy the ones that are pre toasted and skip to the next step. If you are toasting your own hazelnuts, then heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the nuts for roughly 15 minuets, turning them a couple times so they don't burn (See, theoretically, I know how to not burn them, but I have a very short attention span). They will have a light golden brown color when they are done.
After you have soaked the hazelnuts overnight, rinse them off in a strainer and transfer them to your blender or food processor.
A blender is better if you have a strong one because you need to add quite a bit of water.
Blend, then if you have cheesecloth, lay it over a bowl and let the liquid strain through into a bow… I used a lint free drying towel.
You may have to stir the ground up hazelnuts around to get all the liquid to soak through
Squeeze out as much of the milk as you can
Now you have the milk… you just need to add the chocolate!
Melt the chocolate either over a stove like I did here or in the microwave… I find that the stove is much better because it is harder to overcook the chocolate. To do this method, heat water in a pot, place a bowl with the chocolate on top of the pot and stir constantly. Make sure that the bowl of chocolate doesn't touch the water below.
Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the pot once almost all of the chocolate chunks have melted. This will keep it from overcooking. Continue to stir the chocolate until it has all melted. All good? Great! Next is the tricky part, the part I completely failed and I don't know why, but here is what Smitten says to do…
"Add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time to the chocolate and stir it in". I did this and my chocolate began hardening after about 3 teaspoons, so something went wrong, somewhere...
No one was going to be able to drink that…
Remember me saying I like easy, fool-proof recipes? Frustrated, I tried again, with the bittersweet chocolate this time… and the same results… grrrr… I wanted hazelnut chocolate milk and now what I had was hazelnut milk and two large balls of chocolate… not bad, but not what I was going for.
THEN inspiration hit and I threw the milk and the bittersweet ball into the blender!
Desired results achieved!!! And let me say, it is fabulous in coffee! Side note: it hardens in the refrigerator to the consistency of pudding… melts easily in coffee or is great over ice cream!
I was then left with the conundrum of what to do with the extra chocolate ball. Obviously I couldn't throw it away...
Hazelnut coated chocolate balls? Why not?
I spread the hazelnut meat out on parchment paper and stuck it in the oven at 200 to dry it. I don't remember how long this took because I was just winging it. Probably 20 min, but I stirred it frequently and checked it very often (remember... I burn nuts). While they were drying, I rolled the chocolate into balls and melted a small bowl of butter. Once the hazelnut pieces were dry and cooled off (you don't want to melt your chocolate balls), I dunked the chocolate balls into the butter and rolled them in the hazelnuts. You can then sprinkle with powdered sugar… if you definitely want diabetes…