Posts Tagged With: Pietro Ferrero

152/365: National Hazelnut Cake Day

Welcome to June, or The Month Of The Dessert. 20 of the food holidays are desserts only, leaving us no choice for substitutions. Actually, it’s going to be that way for the entire summer. Roughly half of the food holidays over the next three months center around desserts. This is going to be the toughest stretch of our challenge, I think. But…we’ve come this far, so we must soldier on. June 1 kicks things off with National Hazelnut Cake Day.

Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are most widely produced in Turkey – 75% of the world’s production originates there. In the United States, 99% of hazelnuts are grown right here in Oregon and Washington. That makes us the Istanbul of the West, I suppose. The prevalence of hazelnuts pretty much everywhere was one of the things that stood out to me when I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1994. Hazelnuts, which come from the hazel tree, have been around for thousands of years; an archaeological dig in Scotland in 1995 unearthed a pit full of hazelnut shells that were carbon-dated and found to be 9000 years old! They grew in popularity during the 1940s, when wartime rationing made cocoa scarce. Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero introduced what became known as Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate spread that stretched the limited supply of chocolate by taking advantage of the plentiful hazelnuts in the Piedmont region of Italy. Nutella was imported to the U.S. in 1983 (seems like it’s been around longer than that!) and found a new legion of American fans.

With so many cakes looming on the horizon, we’ve decided to cut down portion sizes whenever possible. Our ingenious solution? Cupcakes! They are officially defined as “a small cake” so we aren’t breaking any rules. (An alternate definition is “an attractive woman” which I find both hilarious and outdated). It was simple enough to find a recipe for hazelnut cupcakes. This one uses both Nutella and Frangelico, so it’s an automatic win-win already. I spent a good portion of the afternoon whipping these up; we’ve got plans this evening and had to make sure we got our challenge in before we left – we probably won’t be back until after midnight!

The verdict? Pretty damn good! First time I’ve made cupcakes from scratch, too.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Categories: Desserts, Pastry | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

37/365: National Nutella Day

Today is an unusually confusing day. As you know, we have an official food calendar we are consulting for these various holidays. Just for fun, I double check several other sites every day, to verify there isn’t a mistake. It’s all about authenticity, folks! 99% of the time there are no issues. Today? Ugh. Our calendar says it’s National Nutella Day. Some online sources agree, but others say that was yesterday. Depending on who you believe, today is either Nutella Day, Chopsticks Day, Frozen Yogurt Day, or even Food Checkout Day. Weird that February 6 is so full of disagreement. Since at least 4 or 5 different sites match our calendar, and we’d already planned for it, we are sticking to our guns. With that in mind, Happy National Nutella Day!

Nutella (like carrot cake) is another food item we can thank World War II for. Chocolate rationing left Italian baker Pietro Ferrero in a lurch. Chocolate was his bread and butter, so to speak. Looking for a way to make his supply last, he turned to hazelnuts, which grew like weeds in and around his hometown of Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Ferrero initially created a solid block of hazelnuts and chocolate, but in 1951 he produced a creamy version he called Supercrema. In 1963 his son Michele (yes, son) wanted to sell the product all over Europe, so he modified the recipe and renamed it Nutella. It was an instant global success. But Nutella has lately suffered from some negative press. A class action lawsuit against Ferrero was settled just last year, after it was deemed that Nutella’s marketing claim of being “part of a nutritious breakfast” was, to put it mildly, not exactly the truth. Well, duh! One glance at the label – sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa solids, and milk – should give a clue to even the most naive consumer that Nutella is not on par health-wise with, say, oatmeal. Half of the calories come from fat, and 40% from sugar. If you really think that’s nutritious, I’ve got a bridge for sale.

Nutritious or not, Nutella is good. I had never tried it before today! I know, I know. I lead a sheltered life. Since I was a Nurgin® (a Nutella virgin, and yes, I’m trademarking that), I figured the simplest presentation would be best. A slice of white bread toast topped with Nutella. I’m not a big fan of sweet breakfasts unless there is something savory to accompany them, which may be why I said, two bites in, that the Nutella toast would have been perfect if it were topped with bacon. I wish I’d thought of that sooner! But, it was good. Nutty and chocolatey and creamy and smooth. I get the appeal now.

IMAG0503

Nutella on toast. Not a bad morning pick-me-up!

Categories: Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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