The first time I tasted Nutella the sky opened up and a ray of
enlightenment light beamed down upon me as I sat awestruck and mesmerized, eating spoon after spoon of my newfound chocolate hazelnut delight.
Even though I grew up in an Italian-American family I wasn’t introduced to Nutella until later in life, as they don’t share the same love for it I do. It’s kind of hard to believe being that Italians are notorious Nutella lovers. And rightly so. Nutella is an Italian institution.
Nutella was created by pastry chef Pietro Ferraro, the founder of the Ferraro company, during World War II when chocolate was in short supply. He mixed the chocolate with the abundant hazelnuts growing in the Piedmont region of Italy to extend the chocolate. It was first made into loaves wrapped in foil so slices could be cut off for sandwiches. At that time it was called “pasta gianduja”. It wasn’t until later, in 1964, that Ferraro turned it into something soft and spreadable, at which time it earned the name Nutella. Nut for hazelnuts and ‘ella’ meaning soft. It wasn’t introduced to the U.S. until the early 1980’s.
Nutella became so popular that Italian children could bring a slice of bread to their market for a “smear” of Nutella in what markets dubbed “The Smearing”. An idea I wish our markets at home would adapt!
I think the tide is turning in my family because recently Dad came home from the market with a jar of Nutella he spied on sale, with the hopes that I could turn it into something delicious for us to eat. Bless his heart.
A small serving of these rich, lusciously sweet treats is all it takes to satisfy even the most persistent of sweet tooths. The best part is the crunchy top that forms over top and breaking through it to get to the silky custard underneath. Two sides of heaven.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place six 4-ounce ramekins into a large baking dish without the sides touching.
2. In a large heat proof mixing bowl whisk yolks, sugar and cinnamon together.
3. In a small saucepan heat half & half, Nutella and chocolate together on low heat until melted, whisk well. Add a few tablespoons into egg mixture and whisk well to temper. Slowly pour the rest in whisking the entire time.
4. Divide evenly among ramekins, place in oven and fill the pan halfway with hot water (not boiling). Bake for 40 minutes until custard is set in the middle. Cool on wire racks and chill well before serving.
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