nutella on toast

These days, I wake up naturally an hour before my alarm. Every morning.

My eyes open, I blink in the early sunlight and I reach for my alarm clock, hoping against reason that it won’t be what it always is: bright blinking numbers signaling 6:30 (or worse, 6:15). Understand, it is not the time that bothers me, but the timing, a full hour or more before I need to wake up, a full hour or more before I need to have my eyes open or my arms reaching for the alarm clock. It’s a matter of waste, really, a waste of precious sleep. At this point, I have two basic choices: I can get up, and I do sometimes, or I can try to go back to sleep, laying there, awake, beneath the giant white cloud that is my down comforter, and I can close my eyes and wait—for sleep to come or for a more decent hour to arrive. In either case, when I do eventually rise, I’ll have to wait for other things. I will go to the shower, waiting for the hot water to come; to the kitchen, waiting for the bread to toast, for the water to boil; out on the roads, waiting for the light to turn green while I drive to work.

hazelnuts

A lot of life is waiting, have you noticed that? And I don’t just mean with the small stuff of alarm clocks and commuting and morning kettles. We wait for graduations. We wait for job offers. We wait for proposals to be made and babies to be born. We wait, many times, for people. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and here is what I want to know: If so much of life is waiting, how can I get better at it?

You hear people say things all the time about enjoying the journey, and I think that’s good. I want to enjoy the hour I have to relax before getting up, especially since there are a lot of tired moms who would wish for exactly that (am I right?). I want to redeem my morning commutes, with the radio, with talking to the One who never leaves me or forsakes me, and when I drive home, with gratitude for the way the sun streaks across the sky at 5:45 PM.

nutella on toast

And, on those mornings when I end up dressed and ready to go a good 30 minutes before I should head out the door, I want to sit at the table, and I want to eat toast with homemade Nutella® on top. It is a simple pleasure, but trust me: it’s one worth savoring.

Did you know you can make your own version? It’s no big deal; there are only four ingredients: Buy yourself some hazelnuts (I get mine in the bulk bins at Whole Foods), toast them so you can rub off the skins, and combine them in a food processor with cocoa, vanilla and a sweetener (I used maple syrup, but you could alternatively use honey).

This homemade choco-hazelnut spread isn’t exactly like the store-bought variety, but it is good: creamy and nutty, sweet and perfect for spreading on toast—or pita bread or crackers or fruit or, let’s just be honest, on anything. And in life, whether you’re waiting for your clothes to dry, your friend to arrive or just Change, in that way we actually wish and wait for it sometimes, take it from me: this stuff makes a great companion while you do.





Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (aka, Nutella!)
Adapted from Steph Chows

Though I used the above recipe (I wanted to use maple syrup), I was originally inspired by Lisa’s version at The Simple Spatula. Hers uses honey, so go take a look!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole skinned hazelnuts
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Roast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Let them cool and then remove skins by rubbing them between a dish towel (or your hands). If you don’t get ALL the skins off, it’s OK; it’s just that they taste bitter, so you don’t want them all in there.

Grind nuts in a food processor until they go from chopped to soft to a thick butter. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Spoon into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate*.

*Regular Nutella doesn’t need to be refrigerated after you open it, and in fact should be kept at room temperature because it’s easier to spread that way. So with this recipe, it’s a good idea to let the spread sit out for a bit before spreading it on things, although, between us (more waiting!?!?), I never do.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Angela@spinachtiger

    I am inspired to make nutella and then see what else I can do with it. I want to make my own hazelnut chocolate ice cream.

    About that waiting. I never seem to be ready early enough. Now, getting to work later, I go workout, cook, photo, but something is nagging at me. I used to read the bible every year, and I’ve drifted away from that morning routine. How about you?

  2. MaryAnn

    I love Nutella. When I have visited Vienna there is a gelato place called Zanoni Zanoni’s. They have vanilla gelato with Nutella ripple. My absolute favorite! I get it whenever I am there – even in the wintertime!

  3. Jacqui

    i hate waiting! but you make it seem not so bad. and so i’ve waited long enough: i will try nutella for the first time. i can’t say that i will try the homemade version first — i will most likely cheat and get the store-bought (any store? jewel?) — because oh! did i tell you? my food processor just stopped working. just like that. but anyway, the point is, nutella. yes. it’s time.

  4. Annie

    I’ve been waiting to hear someone else talk about waiting. I often say it on my site, but to know I’m not alone feels great. I need to get better at waiting-I often awake out of anxiety to get the day started and disregard the simple pleasures.

    Plus, I have been noshing on Nutella and thinking about making my own so this is exactly what I need right now. Thank you!

  5. Janet

    I love making your blog the first part of my mornings. This was so wonderful. I anxiously anticipate what thoughtful and deep topics with a wonderful recipe combined. And I too wonder how to get better at waiting. Someone says to call back in 15 minutes. I do. And then they say call back later.

    You know I don’t think I’ve ever tried hazelnuts. Almonds and walnuts definitely, but not hazelnuts. I’ll let you know how this works out in my blender, if it doesn’t break or I might have to go with the mortar and pestle to have a small fix. Hehe.

  6. Tammy

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. So timely for me. Thank you for reminding me not to waste any of the time that is given to me and to really enjoy it. And of course, what could be better than homemade nutella while waiting? Wonderful.

  7. Shannalee

    Whitney, Yessss. Exactly.

    Lisa, The first time I had it was in Europe when I was about 17 (I want to say it was in Germany?) and I was unimpressed, ha! It took a few years but I became a full-on superfan. Hearing that your grandparents brought it back from Italy makes me wonder when Nutella became available in the States? I’m sure glad it did!

    Angela, Like Baci chocolates? That was ALWAYS the kind of gelato I got in Italy. Mmmm. Do it! Also – I know what you mean about drifting from morning reading. I have been working through the Bible this year but I do it strictly at night. It had seemed before that if I did it in the morning, I rushed or got distracted or couldn’t focus. But maybe I should try it again, what with all my free time!

    MaryAnn, My mouth is watering, and it is past 10 PM. That sounds delicious!

    Jacqui, Yep, you can find it most anywhere! Usually by the spreads (like jellies and peanut butter). Tell me what you think!

    Annie, What a sweet comment. You don’t know how much it encourages ME to hear someone else who relates. Thanks!

    Mara, Thank you so much – and wise words. Waiting is refining and rewarding. Very true.

    Misty, Ha! Thank you!

    Kendall, That is what I try anyway. It is def a process! Thanks for the encouragement.

    Janet, Do you use your mortar and pestle often? I’ve thought of getting one but so far have told myself I don’t need it… but they look so cool! Thanks, as always, for your sweet comment!

    Tammy, Thank you! I love how you said that: “not to waste any of the time that is give to me” – exactly! I want that, too.

  8. Niki

    I’m already almost to work by the time you wake up. And I’m talking the wake up time you don’t like, an hour before your alarm.
    In fact, I’m at work now, at 7:18am. And I’ve been up for 2 1/2 hours already. I also went to bed at about 11:30pm.

    I now feel like I need more sleep. And Nutella. I have to say, I really like the stuff you buy, I’ve never had homemade. What is the difference in taste, texture?

  9. nicole

    It’s so true a lot of life is waiting — some days (many days) I am better at it, able and willing to savor the moments. This makes up for the times I am impatient and wondering about the what-next. I think I shall have to make this to help with those moments — thank you.

  10. Vicki

    I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who wakes up way before the alarm. My alarm is set for 6 but usually I wake up at 5-something, once in awhile 4-something! It’s annoying but I think if I had children, I’d probably have to get up before 6 to get everyone ready in the morning. So I just stay in bed as a favor to my potential future self and enjoy the quiet time listening to my husband snore. :)

    I love Nutella! It’s one of the many foods I’ve discovered since becoming a fan of Food Network.

  11. Sara

    sitting down and eating breakfast before work is a simple pleasure, your spread looks like jsut the treat. I wish I did that more often. This morning, driving to work with a breakfast burrito in one hand, coffee splashing out of my cupholder and business call at the same time was NOT working for me.

  12. postcollegecook

    Every time I’m in the peanut butter aisle (which is every time I go grocery shopping because I think I have a hoarding problem with peanut butter) I gaze longingly at the Nutella, then exercise a great deal of self-restraint for the sake of my health and my wallet. It would not last long in my house! I would probably feel less guilty, financially and health-wise, with this homemade Nutella :) Hazelnut and chocolate were made for each other.

  13. Shannalee

    Niki, Oh I do not envy you that, ha! But notice that I did say it’s not the time that bothers me; it’s just that I am awake before I have to be, you know? As far as the diff in taste, I think it’s a little less sweet and a little more coarse, prob because this version is made without sugar and instead with maple syrup (or honey). It’s seriously pure chocolate-hazelnut goodness though!

    Lisa, Well thank you!

    Nicole, I definitely think I have my better-at-waiting days, too. We need reminders maybe. Hope you get to savor some of this (or whatever comes your way) this weekend!

    Vicki, See, you understand! (and 4-something!? ugh!) Glad to know another Nutella lover, btw.

    Sara, Ha! What a visual! Here’s to better things ahead for you–and soon, sounds like!

    Postcollegecook, Right? The ingredients aren’t exactly cheap (the hazelnuts and the honey/maple syrup, I mean), but there is a mental sense of doing better by making it. I’ll take Nutella anywhere I can get it!

  14. Danielle

    This is genius. Going on my to-do list next week!

    Agree with you about how life is all about waiting, which, in this socially-networked, ‘always on’ age, is viewed as an inconvenience rather than a joy. Thanks for reminding us to stop and savor the home-made Nutella.

  15. Pingback: Ode to Nutella | Bay Area Bites

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