Homemade mustard, ketchup and mayo -- the mantra today is make it, don't buy it. But would you dare toy with the No. 1 after-school snack of Europe? Nutella is the peanut butter of the EU, but it's better. It's a creamy smear of chocolate and hazelnuts beloved by children and pro-bakers alike. There's always one iconoclast in the crowd, and with Nutella it is David Leite of Leite's Culinaria.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper: What has you intrigued now?
David Leite: A trend out there in the blogging world is Nutella, the peanut butter alternative of chocolate and hazelnut. It's a wonderful spread. I first experienced it on New Year's Eve 1993 in Paris. But Americans are just adoring this and they're waking up to it.
LRK: Why is it so popular now?
DL: I think there are a couple of things. Part of the engines that are driving this train are mommy bloggers who really want to have a wholesome, sweet treat for their kids that's an alternative to any kind of packaged food.
Also, we have those incredible baking bloggers out there who make these incredible desserts. On top of it, they have these beautiful, beautiful photographs.
If you think about all of the coffees that have become so popular the past 10 years, they are flavored coffees. And the most popular flavor? Hazelnut. I think that whetted our appetite for it.
LRK: How do you make Nutella?
DL: It's actually so simple. All you do is you take hazelnuts, you roast them, take off the skins and let them cool. You grind them in a food processor, add a little bit of oil, confectioner's sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Grind that even more. Then you have melted chocolate that has been cooled -- you add it in, blend it a bit, strain it into a glass jar and let it cool to room temperature. Voilà: Nutella.
Recipe: Homemade Nutella
LRK: It's pretty simple.
DL: What I find fascinating is a lot of people are actually not straining it, so they have a little bit of a crunch to it, like the crunchy peanut butter that we had growing up as kids. There are all these variations.
LRK: Straining is a pain in the neck. Why bother? The traditional way of using it, I remember, was you spread it on bread or you took puff pastry and you rolled it up. I have no doubt people are digging in with a lot of original ideas.
DL: They're making homemade Nutella frosting. People are making Nutella Pop-Tarts, they're making Nutella cupcakes, any kind of Nutella frosting, they're doing dacquoise with Nutella inside instead of hazelnut frosting or hazelnut paste. Anything you can imagine, they're substituting other fillings for Nutella -- eclairs filled with Nutella, homemade Nutella inside instead of pastry cream. People are going wild with this.