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Vegan Nutella - Plant Based Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

You've seen me post about it incessantly for the past few months and FINALLY my better-than-the-real-thing + easy-as-pie vegan Nutella has been perfected and I really can't remember EVER being more excited to share a recipe!

I recall the minute I found out nutella wasn't vegan - reading the label in a lonely grocery store aisle I was understandingly surprised and disappointed. I guess I always knew Nutella wasn't great for you I just never assumed it use dairy as the base because it's so shelf stable. But yes, its true - brand name Nutella uses dairy, a ton of processed sugar, loads of oil and just a little kiss of hazelnut and chocolate to make up it's ingredient list - HOW RUDE?! 

Although I dreamed of it forever, It wasn't until this year that I got around to testing this recipe and let me tell you, it was a serious touch and go mind-game the first few times around. With a tired arm (from continuously using the Vitamix tamper) and a gloppy, oily mess in the blender I wanted to give up so many times but something inside told me *KEEP GOING*. I played with the near-disastrous spread for what felt like hours, switching between Vitamix and food processor and back again, tinkering with tablespoons of coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk - and then somehow, like magic, the mass came together to form the most glorious spread! The consistency was perfect, the flavor was spot on, the scent was intoxicating but now, I had to see if I could re-create it. I knew there had to be an easier way than praying and swearing loudly for two hours in my kitchen so I bought a bulk batch of raw hazelnuts and got to testing (much to my boyfriends delight, who literally ate his weight in the stuff).  It took me another few tries but I finally developed the proper method for making light-as-air, deeply chocolatey, nutty and creamy vegan Nutella - and surprisingly, it's much easier than I ever could have imagined! 

Unlike store-bought Nutella, this version is full of real, whole food ingredients. I use a blend of freshly roasted nuts as the base, then employ maple syrup to sweeten, cacao to give a chocolate boost, plant milk to make it creamy and melted coconut oil to give it body. Although my version is light and almost "whipped" in appearance it is still very rich and calorically dense so a little goes a long way there, guys! 

Perhaps the thing I love most about this spread is it's rich and varied possible uses - spread on warm toast, or enveloped by vegan crepes, dolloped onto fresh strawberries, stirred into breakfast bowls, and my personal favorite, by the spoonful, right out of the jar. And please don't be intimidated by my heroic struggle above, it is super easy to make as long as you follow the details below and have a high-speed blender! Give it a whirl and I can promise you, you will never, ever, want store-bought Nutella again!

Serves: 20, 2 tbsp. servings • Prep Time: 20 minutes • Blender Time: 10 minutes

  • 1.5 cups blanched hazelnuts - I used these so you don't have to worry about removing the skins!
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, cashews or brazil nuts (I've used all three with great results)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened good quality coco powder
  • 2.5-3 cups plant milk, total, added in 1/2 cup increments (add more for thinner consistency)
  • 1 scant tsp. pink salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp. coconut oil *OPTIONAL, but recommended for consistencies sake*

PRO TIP: For optimal consistency, it is essential that you do not half or reduce the recipe by any amount. The blender requires a good amount of ingredients to grab onto so it is really able to combine them effectively. PLUS who really wants to make a *little* bit of vegan Nutella, common?!

1. Preheat your oven to 350* F. Spread the hazelnuts onto a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, give them a gentle shake and toast for another 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool just slightly on the stovetop.

2. Add your toasted hazelnuts to a high-speed blender with the raw nuts of your choosing plus the maple syrup and first 1/2 cup of plant milk - blend on low speed, gradually turning it up to high. 

3. Once you reach high speed, go in with your tamper and stir, helping the mixture to blend - it will be grainy and thick at this point (it will also be quite hot, so use caution). Continue adding milk in 1/2 cup increments until the mixture begins to look more smooth. 

4. At this point, add in the rest of your ingredients and another 1/2 cup of almond milk - blend using the tamper again. In total, you will be blending and using the tamper for 3-5 minutes. It may look rough there for a minute or two -just keep going -scrape down the sides if needed and BELIEVE!

5. Once you've reached a totally smooth and creamy consistency, add a few tablespoons of coconut oil to a sauce pan and melt on low heat until it is totally liquified. Then, turn your blender on low speed and stream in the liquid coconut oil until well combined - THIS is the key to getting the best, most spreadable texture!

NOTE: You WANT the spread to look a little bit runny at this point, it will firm up in the fridge as the ingredients cool!

6. Transfer to mason jars or other airtight containers. Store in the fridge for up to ten days!



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Vegan Nutella Energy Bites

Energy bite options are endless. I have a ton of different flavors on the blog already but they are something I never tire of creating and I hope you never tire of enjoying them either. I love storing them in a fridge and having one or two as a pre-workout pick-me-up (they provide a boost of potassium and sustained energy by way of dates, nuts and cacao) but I also love eating half of the mixture while it's still in the food processor as I roll them out - it's all about balance with these guys. 

I have wanted to make a Nutella flavored energy bite for a while now. Nutella, the classically creamy roasted hazelnut spread, is not dairy free which means it's been a long time since I have experienced it's uniquely delicious flavor profile - until now. A key to nailing the flavor was roasting the nuts - I was worried about the (slightly pricey) little hazelnuts but the method I described below was easy and worked out fine and the end result is so worth it!

The rest of the process is pretty much my standard - oats, dates, healthy fat, flavorings - all combined in my trusty $30 food processor (best purchase ever). 

Let me know if you try these nutty little guys, they are such a special treat - I actually used this recipe as an on the fly vegan dessert for a plant-based guest at the inn where I work, I drizzled some chocolate sauce over top and sprinkled some berries, so easy - he LOVED it! 

Serves: 6 (Apx. 12, 1.5" bites) • Duration: 15 minutes (add a little extra if you're hand rolling bites!)

  • 1.5 cups oats, ground
  • 12-16 large Medjool dates (roughly two cups, lightly packed), pitted and soaked, if needed
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted hazelnuts, toasted
  • 3 tbsp. cacao/coco powder
  • 2 rounded tbsp. almond butter (sub coconut oil or any nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

1. Preheat your oven to 325*F. Once the oven is at temp, place your raw hazelnuts on a lined baking sheet and roast for intervals of 2-3 minutes until fragrant and slightly toasted (this took me about 6 minutes total), allow to cool.

2. While your nuts are roasting, pit your dates, IF they are a bit dry place them in a small vessel - heat water on the stove and pour over the dates and allow to soak for a few minutes until plump. Drain well and dry the dates off with a paper towel.

3. Pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until a flour-like consistency is reached, pour the flour into a separate container.

4. Add the dates, hazelnuts, cacao, almond butter, vanilla and salt to a food processor - blend till the mixture is nearly smooth (you may have to stop the machine and push the mixture down a few times with a spatula). Then add the oats back in and blend again until the oat mixture is fully integrated - it should be very thick, just slightly sticky and easily formable between your fingers.

5. Begin to roll into 1.5" balls and place them in a storage container in the fridge to set up for a few minutes. To decorate, you can roll the balls in coco powder, drizzle chocolate sauce over or press a hazelnut into the center of each one.  Alternatively, you could press the mixture into a pan or other vessel, set in the fridge, slice and enjoy them like brownies. 








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