Nutella Pudding by comeundone/flickr.
Before Nutella, I was a good person.
I was sensible, sane (*cough*), relatively rational and mostly in control. Sure, I had my dalliances with cupcakes, macarons and pies, but these indulgences were fueled by requisite research (*cough cough*). I explored, analyzed, tasted, and reported back just for you. Contrary to popular belief, I’m perfectly able to limit my consumption of these treats for special occasions only.
Not so with naughty Nutella. If I were banished to a desert island, the one thing I would take with me (besides a recording of “Like a Rolling Stone”) would be a nasty, nutty, hopelessly unhealthy jar of Nutella. There, under the searing sun, with chapped, cracked lips and tired hair that hadn’t been washed in months, I would dip my pointer finger into my Nutella and bliss out.
Anybody out there know what I’m talking about? One doesn’t choose Nutella. It chooses you. And absolutely NO ONE is safe from its brand of tawdry temptation. So, you think you’re all tidy and health conscious with lots of willpower? Nutella will find a way to weasle itself into your life. All it takes is one weak moment, a teensy dose of curiosity, an innocent offer by even the most trusted of friends — and wham! You’re hooked.
I first became aware of this chocolate hazlenut spread when I lived in England years ago. I may have even seen it on the shelves of my local Sainsbury’s, but was never tempted to try it. For some bizarre reason, I equated it with yeasty, smelly, salty Marmite, that ubiquitous “Love It or Hate It” savoury spread that is actually relished by a large number of otherwise respectable individuals. After my first whiff of Marmite, I swore off all suspicious-looking brownish spreads that came in jars. Just as well, I guess. I subsequently enjoyed many happy Nutella-free years, when I was thinner, perkier, and spent my extra money on teddy bears and English pottery.
Nutella Love Cake (recipe here).
Every now and then, there’d be a mention of Nutella somewhere — a magazine article, a dessert cookbook, hungry travelers in a Dulles Airport security check line discussing what they were going to do in Paris. My ultra sensitive foodie radar picked up all these signals, but I remained strong, Don Pardo. I even ignored the onslaught of TV commercials trying to convince moms that slathering Nutella on whole grain bread constituted a healthy breakfast. Hah!
My descent into the Nutella netherworld began last summer, when I decided to immerse myself in all things French. Nutella didn’t originate in France; it was a sly Italian named Pietro Ferrero who decided to extend a shortened supply of cocoa during WWII by adding ground hazlenuts to an earlier version of the spread. But it seemed every book I picked up set in France, about French culture or French cooking mentioned Nutella. Characters rhapsodized about it endlessly, a fitting parallel to their lusty romances. Chefs de Cuisine were constantly trying to develop new ways to incorporate Nutella in their fancy desserts. And when I read Becky Ramsey’s wonderful travel memoir, French by Heart, I learned about her unequivocal passion for the stuff.
Cheese-filled Tuiles with Nutella Drizzles (recipe here).
Strawberry Banana Ice Cream Crepe by chibong/flickr.
“Research,” I assured myself, “for the blog.” So I bought my first jar, not glass, like in Europe, but plastic, as manufactured in Canada for the North American market. First, a dip with a pretzel stick, then a spread on bread. Would it taste better on a cracker, a cookie, a baguette? What about a waffle or pancake? A biscuit, a plain cupcake? I am, if nothing else, thorough to a fault when it comes to research. Then came that pivotal spoonful of Nutella with vanilla soy ice cream. Something about the combination of melty, oozy chocolate on the verge of chilling up when it flirts with ice cream, cutting the sweetness just so.
Take me, take me now! Death by Nutella is the only way to go!!
To each his Nutella. On particularly weak days, I forego the dipstick and ice cream and eat it by the spoonful. This is badder than bad, since there are 100 calories per tablespoon. Nutella guilt, I might add, is for some odd reason more intense than dark chocolate candy bar guilt. My only consolation is that I’m not alone in my Nutella naughtiness. It’s enjoyed in some 75 countries around the globe, and there’s even a World Nutella Day, celebrated every February 5th, where people share tons of recipes, photos, and Nutella escapades.
Nutella Pudding Icebox Cake (recipe here).
So, tell me. Is there a jar of Nutella in your kitchen right now? What’s your favorite way to eat it? More importantly, why does being a naughty Nutella freak feel so deliciously good? Spank me!
Speaking of Paris, you can get a yummy Nutella crepe (sometimes with bananas) from a street vendor.
♥ Click here for a gargantuan list of Nutella recipes shared by bloggers around the world for Nutella Day 2011.
♥ Interesting development: A California mother is suing the Ferrero Company for falsely advertising Nutella as a healthy food product (its main ingredient is sugar).
♥ If, by some chance, you’re a Nutella virgin, here are “50 Ways to Eat Nutella.”
♥ Here’s a recipe for homemade Nutella from David Lebovitz.
♥ More Nutella Day fun at the flickr photo pool.
In the alphabet soup kitchen, Nutella is stored out of reach on the top shelf to minimize temptation.
Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.