Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nutella


A while ago, Max and I were watching TV and a Nutella commercial came on. The commercial, which I had never seen before, touted the nutritional benefits of the chocolate-hazelnut spread and said it was part of a healthy breakfast. When the commercial was over, Max said, “Is that a commercial from Saturday Night Live? That can’t be a real commercial.” When I told him I thought it was a real commercial he couldn’t stop laughing. Max wasn’t around when Cap’n Crunch was advertised the same way so he has no point of reference.

We pulled out the almost-empty jar of Nutella we had in the cupboard to see its nutritional benefits for ourselves. Per tablespoon there is 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of fat and 11 grams of sugar. Still waiting for the nutritional benefits? Me too. Okay, so it’s not healthy. It’s creamy, sweet perfection in a recyclable plastic jar.

I came to Nutella late in life. I had often heard people talk about it and I had seen it in the grocery store, but I abstained until a few years ago. I saw a recipe for crêpes in an old issue of Vegetarian Times. I’d wanted to make crêpes for a while, so I was happy to find such an easy recipe. The only filling mentioned that really spoke to me was Nutella. I love chocolate and I love hazelnuts, so, I figured, it was time to dive right into the crêpes and the Nutella.

I don’t think I could eat crêpes filled with anything else now. I’ve tried. Max prefers butter and raspberry jam, so I gave that a go. Not even close. I keep saying I’m going to sauté apple slices in butter and brown sugar for the filling, but I’ve yet to do that. Nutella has a hold on me that I think only a baseball bat to the skull can break. Nah, probably not even that.

Parisian-style Sweet Crêpes
Makes 8 crêpes
From Vegetarian Times, September 2009

Don’t feel boxed in by my Nutella habit, you can fill these with just about anything you want. The recipe calls for ⅓ cup of sugar, but I use about 2 tablespoons.  The batter keeps in the fridge for a few days, so if you want to make just a few crêpes at a time you can. After refrigerating, you have to mix it up a bit before you start crêpeing. I’ve used almond milk when I didn’t have regular milk, and it was quite tasty.

You’re supposed to dip a paper towel into some canola oil and run it over a nonstick pan for greasing. (Yup, you need a nonstick pan.) Sometimes I forget to do this and pour a little oil directly into the pan. I’ve lived to tell about it, so I think you can go either way.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup low-fat milk (or whatever milk you have in the fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola oil

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Whisk in egg; mixture will be shaggy. (This is Vegetarian Times speak. I looked for a definition for this, and I couldn’t find one. It means, I think, that it will look like you need to add more egg. You don’t.) Whisk in milk ¼ cup at a time. Whisk in vanilla.  Cover and chill 30 minutes or as long as overnight. (I do overnight all the time.)
2. Whisk ¼ to ½ cup water into batter to thin. (I use ¼ cup.) Lightly grease nonstick skillet pan with canola oil. Heat pan over medium-high heat.
3. Pour ¼ cup batter into hot pan, tilting pan to swirl batter so it coats bottom of pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown and center is dry. Flip (with or without the aid of a spatula). Cook about 1 minute more.
4. Transfer crêpe to plate, and repeat with remaining batter. Before serving: Reheat 1 minute in lightly greased skillet. Spread with whatever fillings you like, fold in quarters and feed people.

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