I searched for a long time on how to have a good and « healthy » alternative to the commercial chocolate spread. Not easy to find, but easy to make! You mostly need the proper ingredients and a good mixer ; no particular cooking skill required.

This recipe is a good marriage between French and Italian cuisine:

  • Praline: invented in the 17th century in Montargis (France).
  • Gianduja: invented in the early 19th century in the Piedmont region (Italy), where hazelnuts are good and abundant.

99% of the people who tasted it have validated the recipe!

Fight between Praline and Gianduja

AI interpretation of a fight between praline and gianduja

1. The Equipment

Be sure to have the adequate equipment before even trying:

  • Oven (to roast the hazelnuts).
  • Hot plate and saucepan (for the caramel and the double boiler).
  • Powerful mixer (to mix the ingredients, especially the hazelnuts).
  • Baking paper or similar (to cool down the caramel).
  • Small pots of ~125 ml (to store the chocolate spread). Looking for inspiration? I recommend this one if you live in Europe.

I can’t stress enough the powerful mixer, don’t even think doing this recipe with a hand blender, it won’t work. Transforming the nuts to oil requires power!

You’re missing something? Borrow it in exchange of some chocolate spread ;-)

2. The Ingredients

Ingredients are key to any recipe, and this is no exception to the rule ; especially for the hazelnuts and the chocolate.

Quantity for ~2.4 kg, filling ~18 small pots of 125 ml:

  • 1 kg hazelnuts (6800 cal)
  • 400 g regular/granulated sugar (white or brown) (1600 kcal)
  • 500 g icing/powdered sugar (2000 kcal)
  • 500 g 40% chocolate (2900 kcal)

So an average of 750 kcal per small pot of 125 ml.

You should be careful in choosing the ingredients, and probably try different sorts before settling to your favorite combo:

  • Hazelnut brings unctuousness to the result.
    • Be sure to have a proper caliber (i.e. minimum diameter), so it contains enough oil.
    • Blanched hazelnuts (skinless) will save you some time. But if not, don’t worry, it’s just an extra step after roasting them.
  • Chocolate brings the final touch to the taste.
    • 40% is my recommendation for chocolate spread, but you can go with 70% and try different origins.
    • Barry Ghana 40% is safe choice that should please kids and adults.

Hazelnuts + Sugar + Chocolate

Hazelnuts + Sugar + Chocolate

3. The Steps

3.1 Roast the hazelnuts

The hazelnuts need to be roasted before being mixed.

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (Th. 6).
  • Place the hazelnuts on a metal plate (plus some baking paper) and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Move the hazelnuts every 5 minutes (more or less).
  • Remove the plate when the hazelnuts are brown / almost black.
  • Turn off the oven. Listen to the nuts, they should sing to your ears!
  • If the hazelnuts were not blanched (i.e. if it still has its skin): put them in a cloth and rub them vigorously.
    • You had better put this fabric to wash after that.
  • Divide the hazelnuts into two bowls (weigh them to be 50/50).

3.2 Dry caramel

Let’s make the dry caramel that we’ll break into small pieces (the mixer will thank you). If you know how to make one, just follow your usual recipe. In any case, I suggest you watch this video which shows the suggested method for this recipe.

  • Prepare a baking paper on the work surface.
    • You’ll use the paper to lay down the caramel (coming from the saucepan), in order to facilitate its breakdown into small pieces.
    • The surface will take on very hot caramel, so it must be able to resist high temperature!
  • Melt the brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    • No need to add water with the sugar, it just delays the caramel.
  • Pour the caramel onto the paper, and quickly spread with a big metal or wood spoon (no plastic!).
    • Let harden, then break into small pieces.
    • Put some water into the saucepan, and the spoon inside. It’ll help you remove the caramel with no sweat.

3.3 Praline

Let’s make the first half of the spread! The plan is to obtain a fluid praline, so don’t hesitate to mix until it’s the proper texture.

  • In the mixer, put half of the hazelnuts with all the caramel pieces.
  • Mix everything for a few minutes.
    • Stir a bit from time to time if some caramel or nuts are stuck.
    • Wait until the paste is obtained, it may take some time.
    • It must be liquid enough not to stick in the mixer.
  • Set aside in a bowl. Use a Maryse to extract each and every last drop!

3.4 Gianduja

Time for the second half of the spread! Like with the praline, we aim for a fluid gianduja that will be easy to integrate with the rest.

  • Mix the remaining hazelnuts with the powdered sugar.
    • Blend until smooth and creamy.
    • This will take longer than for the praline.
  • Melt the milk chocolate (bain-marie is advised).
  • Add the melted chocolate to the hazelnuts + powdered sugar. Mix again, and you have the gianduja!

3.5 Final mix

At this stage, you’ll need a big enough bowl to fit the 2.5 kg (liters?) of chocolate spread.

  • Add the praline to the gianduja.
  • Mix it all!
    • Either with a light blender or a big spoon. No need for a powerful blender at this stage.

3.6 Into the pots

Last but not least, fill the pots with the delicious chocolate spread.

  • A pot of ~125 ml is my recommended capacity. It’s enough to make people addict, but not too much.
  • A pot like this one is perfect for small gifts.

And don’t forget to keep some for you 😋

4. Additional Tips

  • You should store this chocolate spread at room temperature, don’t put it in the fridge!
  • This recipe has no preservative element, so if the spread hardens (e.g. winter/cold), then do a bain-marie (no microwave!!).
  • The ingredients do not spoil quickly, so the spread should be good for at least a few months, probably 1 year+. But it won’t last that long (hé hé).
  • If you find the time, you could wax seal the pots for a more elegant presentation.

Feel free to ask my postal address by email if you want to send me a gift =)