There are some flavours that were just born to be paired together. Cinnamon and honey. Tomato and basil. Carrot and Coriander. Then there are those that you think won’t go together but actually taste amazing. Salt and caramel. Pear and blue cheese. Matcha and white chocolate. And increasingly, there are also those which sound like they won’t go together… because they really don’t. Licorice-flavoured icecream. Coconut liqueur. And I’m still trying to come to terms with the inclusion of pineapple on pizza (shudder), all these years later.
One flavour combination though which always comes out a winner is chocolate and hazelnut. Thanks in large part to those jars of chocolate-hazelnut spread lusted over by children and adults alike. When I was younger, I used to eat Nutella out of the jar by the spoonful. Always ‘straight up’ – rebel, right? I would never eat it on bread, because – speaking of odd flavour combinations – bread and Nutella together was just downright weird and to be frank, the bread would always take away from the smooth and chocolatey spread. Why spoil something so perfect as Nutella by smothering it on bread!? It made no sense. Years later when I went to Italy I tried Nutella on bread again at a relatives house, this time the Nutella was scooped from the jar and placed on the torn-off bum of a white ciabatta loaf, brown and crusty on the outside and soft, spongy and still warm on the inside. It then clicked where the idea that bread and Nutella might go together actually came from – the home of Nutella itself, with fresh, homemade bread being an equal contributor to the food pairing, a stark contrast to the sliced white supermarket bread it was served up on back home.
These truffles pay homage to Nutella – albeit with a little less sugar and additives. They contain only four ingredients, and are super simple to make, yet taste light something sinfully naughty. For extra fudginess – add an extra date or two, or soak the dates in hot water first.
- 2 cups roasted hazelnuts
- 10 pitted medjool dates
- ⅓ cup raw cacao powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Extra cacao, for dusting
- If the dates are fairly dry and not overly soft, soak for 20 minutes in hot water first. Make sure to strain them well and then press lightly with a clean tea towel to remove as much of the liquid as possible.
- Rub the roasted hazelnuts in a tea-towel to remove as many of the skins as you can. Add them to a food processor and process until blended into a butter. This will take a few minutes, and you will need to stop every so often to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add in the dates, cacao and salt and blend until well combined and smooth - the mixture should be starting to come together into one large ball at this stage.
- Use a teaspoon to scoop out some of the mixture and roll into a small ball. The mixture will be sticky, so you may need to bruch a little water onto your hands first.
- Repeat until all the mixture has been used up, and then dust lightly with extra cacao. You could also add a little extra salt at this point too if you wish.
- Store in the fridge or freezer up to a month.
If you love these, you’ll love my Roasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Mousse (aka N(o)tella Cups)