Judging from the flurry of activity on Twitter today, it is the day for celebrating our favourite chocolate-hazelnut spread – it’s World Nutella Day!
There is nothing that quite matches the chocolatey-hazelnutty stickiness on the roof of your mouth or the creamy melty distinctively flavoured experience that is eating Nutella. Some of us were raised on the stuff…… it has been around a long time….
A little trip through the history of Nutella, tells us that is was first ‘discovered’ in 1946 as a way to make cocoa go further following World War 2. An Italian pastry maker made a hazelnut paste to which was added to a small amount of rare cocoa to serve with bread.
By 1951, this clever discovery had started to develop into Nutella as we know it (although still without its trade mark name), becoming more creamy and spreadable. By 1964 it was being served up in distinctive jars and spreading rapidly across Europe, developing an ever-growing fan club as it went.
1977 saw it reach Australian shores from where it moved into global success….. by 2009 being available in over 150 countries. It even has its own Face Book page!
Shame on me…. I nearly missed its special day…… Good job I had these delicious Nutella Thumbprint Cookies up my sleeve!
In addition to having a soft, melty dose of Nutella pooled in the middle of each cookie, the famous hazelnut-chocolate flavour combo inspires the whole recipe, which is based in ground hazelnuts and cocoa.
Motivated by the need to use up some egg white that was languishing in the fridge, they are made using a meringue-type mixture, which when baked, is amazingly crisp. The smell when you open the biscuit barrel just exudes Nutella. Once you start munching them, it is impossible to stop at one……..
It’s definitely worth grinding your own hazelnuts if you can….. they are much fresher, more intense as a result and heaps cheaper than buying them ready ground. Buy a big bag from one of the many health food or seed and nut stores that are around now and grind them by weight as you need them. Just be careful not to over-grind or you will end up with hazelnut butter….. Wonderful though it is, it won’t work for these cookies!
If you can’t eat Nutella because you have to avoid dairy, just substitute the filling for a spread that you can eat…… they are otherwise completely dairy free.
The No Food Waste Challenge with Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. Had it not been for the need to use up left-over egg white, these cookies would not have been created.
Hazelnut-Chocolate (Nutella) Thumbprint Cookies (makes 18)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
- Whisk the egg white with the sugar until very thick and pale.
- Add the cocoa and salt and whisk again.
- Fold in the ground hazelnuts and flour so that you have a thick, sticky dough-paste.
- Scoop the dough into small, even, rounded piles on the baking sheet, leaving a gap between each, or roll into small even balls with your hands.
- Press a good indent into the centre of each using your thumb or fingers.
- Fill each indent with a small scoop of Nutella and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the outer case is dry and crisp.
- Turn off the oven and leave the biscuits in the oven to cool.
- When they have cooled enough to feel crisp underneath, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.