It was Shrove Tuesday this week, which in England coincides with pancake day.
In France, we are very lucky the events are different (not that anyone ever need any excuse to eat pancakes), we have pancake day early February, “la fete de la Chandeleur”, and then Shrove Tuesday, or “Mardi-Gras”, which marks the beginning of lent (just before the “Mercredi des Cendres”) the last day of indulgence allowed before the fasting period starts. In France we also celebrate Mardi-Gras with a carnival.
One thing that goes without saying with pancake is Nutella. Other chocolate spreads are available, they taste slightly different, but they all have tons of undesirable ingredients in them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff!
But how, being sugar-free, could I still indulge myself and maintain the “tradition” without offending my ethics and keeping true to my resolutions…?
I had to make my own of course!
There are various ready-made hazelnut/chocolate spreads available in shops that are free from whatever you want, but it just doesn’t have the same charm, does it? 🙂
The internet really is wonderful, I came across this blog “sugarfreemom” written by a lady who went down the sugar-free road 10 years ago! For those who thought this not possible, she is the living proof you can actually survive without sugar!
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
- a few drops of liquid hazelnut stevia
- In a dry skillet, toast your hazelnuts until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes over medium heat.
- Place on a clean kitchen towel and allow to cool.
- Once cool rub towel over them to loosen and remove as much of their skins as possible.
- Place in a food processor or high powdered blender and process until fine crumbs.
- Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Taste and adjust salt and stevia if needed.
- Makes 12 ounces
I used organic hazelnuts, organic coconut oil, fairtrade chocolate powder, Himalayan salt (controversial, but I have some in the cupboard, so needs using), I used organic honey instead of stevia, again because I have honey in the cupboard, and I used vanilla extract instead of hazelnut stevia, for the same reason.
The smell of toasted hazelnuts really is something else! And the taste of the finished product is practically spot on!
It took me a little while to get the taste correct, so I would suggest being careful with the “sugar” and also the coconut oil, as the latter will determine the thickness of the texture. I started with 1/4 cup of oil but had to add probably another 1/4 cup as the mixture was too dry. Honey is actually tricky to use in baking, I think you could overdo it, so start with a little and keep tasting and adjusting. I actually had to add more honey (I probably used two tablespoons all together), but better that than the opposite. I think I put too much chocolate, the after taste is quite chocolaty but not unpleasant.
What amazes me is that you get hints of taste, like the “real” stuff, but the after notes are so much better! They leave you wanting for more! But be mindful, it is actually quite filling and satisfying. Whereas before I could demolish half a jar of Nutella in less time it took me to actually eat it, I was quite satisfied here with only just one slice of toast!
There you go, that’s what real flavours and good ingredients do to you, a genuine feeling of satisfaction, not a trick to the brain to make you stuff your face!
In case you need more excuses to give this a go, hazelnuts are a source of vitamin E to protect cells from oxidative stress, and phytochemicals said to support brain health and improve circulation. More details here. Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Saturated fats not only increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in your body, but also help to convert the LDL “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterols. By Increasing the HDL’s in the body, it helps promote heart health, and lower the risk of heart disease. It is also good for a huge number of other reasons, some of which are highlighted here. The cocoa powder is full of powerful antioxidants and has an antidepressant effect. You can read more here.
GOODNESS IN A JAR! 💝