The world-famous cocoa spread Nutella and the Ferrero Rocher brand of chocolates are perhaps the main reasons behind most people’s knowledge about hazelnuts. Indeed, the unique flavor of hazelnuts makes it ideal for sweet treats and desserts like cakes, candies, meringues, pralines, and truffles. There are, in fact, various traditional confections from Austria, France, Georgia, and Turkey that use hazelnuts as their base ingredients.
Of course, hazelnuts aren’t just made for confections. Here are some recipes featuring hazelnuts or hazelnut milk that you ought to give a try.
Most people use almond milk to substitute dairy when making smoothies, but rich and creamy hazelnut milk can give your smoothies a whole new world of flavor. What’s good about using hazelnut milk for your smoothies is that it is already well-matched with sweet flavors, so you don’t have to worry about what kind of fruit to add. Bananas, avocados, strawberries, mangoes, blueberries -- they will all complement the flavor profile of hazelnuts. If you want to add some more sweetness, go with raw honey for some extra health benefits and a smoother texture. You can also add cacao nibs or chocolate chips for a chocolatey touch.
Tired of the usual salted almonds or garlic peanuts for nibbling? Why don’t you try roasted hazelnuts for a change? The main reason for roasting hazelnuts is to remove the thin brown skin; these peels are edible but they make the hazelnuts more chewy instead of lightly crunchy.
To roast hazelnuts, simply place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, then slide it into an oven preheated to 400 degrees. You’ll know they’re done when you notice the skin blistering and the nutty aroma becomes more prominent. This can take about 10 minutes or more. Once the skins are removed, you can already enjoy these hazelnuts as they are; however, you can roast them again for another 5 to 10 minutes with your favorite spices. Try using confectioners sugar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and salt, or brown sugar, rosemary, salt, and a dash of hot pepper sauce for that sweet-and-spicy blend of flavors. If you want to stick to the basics, honey or butter, plus a dash of salt will go a long way.
Pesto is a good way to sneak in some leafy greens into your diet. By adding some hazelnuts, you’ll add a sweet, buttery flavor to the pesto, too. The traditional recipe calls for basil, but you can definitely use whatever leafy green you like; parsley, arugula, cilantro, spinach, mint, even carrot tops are good candidates. Just remember that if you are using tougher leaves like kale or perhaps collards, you have to blanch them first to soften them up. Drain them properly too, so you don’t add any extra liquids to your pesto.
Aside from using it as pasta sauce, you can also use pesto as a dip or salad dressing. You can also serve it on top of grilled chicken or fish.
Mixed Greens with Hazelnuts
It’s easy to dismiss mixed green salad as “boring” but you can easily liven it up with various kinds of dressings and toppings. Try a basic vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, or whisk together some balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. You can also bust out the white wine and red wine vinegars, and a variety of spices for an Italian dressing. For toppings, add some hazelnuts to add some crunch and a layer of sweet, nutty flavor. You can also add dried fruit, blue cheese, and even bits of your preferred meat or seafood.
Of course, you’d be remiss not to try baking a hazelnut cake even once. The cake itself is easy enough to make -- you don’t need a specialized mixer and the hazelnuts don’t need to be finely ground. However, you can this already-delicious cake extra delectable by whipping up a chocolate hazelnut ganache that you can use as a filling and icing.
These are just a few recipes that you can give an interesting tweak with the help of hazelnuts. Go ahead and try these for yourself -- you’ll realize that there’s definitely more to hazelnuts than just Nutella!