Lunching with Nutella, and a recipe for Nutella Ice Cream

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1. Our family chooses what is healthy; and although we respectfully listen to others, we make choices that work for our family.


2. Nutella is made with hazelnuts, skim milk and cocoa, and has no preservatives and no artificial colors.


3. Nutella, while not a traditionally "healthy" food, has 190 calories and a total fat contact of 11g. A traditional or even "healthy" supermarket peanut butter may have the same number of calories but 16 g of fat and a lot more preservatives. Add jam to the peanut butter and....


4. It has no peanut products for those children who have peanut allergies.


Nutella is rich, creamy, and has a chocolaty flavor, with a hint of roasted hazelnuts makes it even more satisfying. And, if the Nutella website is to be believed, it is a "healthy part of a balanced breakfast". So there.


Originally created by Italian baker, Pietro Ferrero when there was chocolate rationing in WWII, Nutella is now become a worldwide staple. In fact, the heirs to the spreadable empire are now the richest people in Italy.


[image-1]Nutella is kind of like saying Kleenex when you want a tissue. This past year, we discovered that although the original recipe is a tightly guarded secret, one can find other spread makers and try it in many forms. I've tried a similar product created by Giraudi,called GiaCometta, that was sublime. In fact, the name GiaCometta originated as a chocolate-hazelnut confection/truffle from Turin. Apparently the concept of the chocolate spread started in the Piedmont area of Italy when the blockade ordered by Napoleon made it difficult to get any cocoa.


The major chocolate makers in Turin all have their personal hazelnut/chocolate recipes for a candy that is commonly known as gianduja. Even Nutella has slight variations in taste. We've discovered that the version in Italy is different than the one in the States. (Italy adds less sugar).


Nutella has come a long way from being a snobby European junk food. Now it can be found in most of the major American supermarkets as well as wholesale clubs. It has an almost cult following on the web. As of this writing, Nutella has a ridiculous number of sites on Facebook dedicated to it, the largest page with 3,236,513 fans. Many fancy bakers and caterers use Nutella in their recipes. It is considered a staple at creperies, and even Spago in Los Angeles has served it. The 4th annual world Nutella day will occur on February 5, 2010.


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There are a myriad of ways to consume Nutella. The classic option is to simply spread it on bread, which is the approach that the Nutella website suggests. My favorite is with Grissini Torinesi, the thin breadsticks from Turin.


My husband Giuliano is working on a new book, and this past weekend we had friends over to taste test his new recipe for a Nutella ice cream; isn't life great? Even the adults loved it, but the kids thought they were in heaven. Daughter Gabriella said, "it's like chocolate ice cream with a twist! It's really good". What could be better after swimming in the pool than a bowl of cool, lush, smooth and creamy chocolate/hazelnut ice cream with just the right amount of sweetness? It was a wonderful indulgence.


So, please, let my kids have their Nutella and eat lunch in peace!


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Nutella Ice Cream


Gelato di Nutella


from an upcoming book by Giuliano Hazan, 2009


2 cups whole milk


4 egg yolks


1/3 cup sugar


4 ounces (1/4 cup) Nutella


1. Put the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. When the milk is hot enough to release steam when stirred, but is not boiling, remove from the heat.


2. Break the eggs open and separate; reserve the whites for another purpose. Add the sugar and whip at high speed until you have a pale yellow, thick and creamy mixture.


3. Pour the hot milk into a pitcher or cup with a spout. Slowly add the milk to the egg and sugar mixture while whisking on low speed. Once half the milk is in you can begin to pour a little faster until all the milk is assimilated. Add the Nutella and whip on medium speed until it is all mixed in evenly.


4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator. When it is cold, put it into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Serve right away, or you can keep it in the freezer for a few days before ice crystals will begin to form.


Lael Hazan, of the noted Italian culinary Hazan family, currently teaches food history at their cooking school in Verona Italy, has a bi-monthly radio show on WSLR, 96.5 fm FOCUS ON FABULOUS FOOD, and teaches for ACEC. For more information check out her family website.

Every year I obsess about the first few weeks of school. Not because I'm worried about my children's teachers — I'm more concerned about lunchtime.

My kids do purchase the stuff made at school, but there are also times when they're fortunate to have fabulous food prepared for them by their gourmet cook father. Yes, we do send leftovers and those wonderful Thermos containers that keep food hot are a godsend. But all too soon there will be days when a quickly made sandwich ends up in the bag.

What causes me consternation is not that my kids will get odd looks when they bring a frittata or curry soup that might not appear on a regular school lunch menu; rather it is that the kind of sandwich my children prefer always gets a comment from a new teacher or another child in class who isn't familiar with our sandwich filler choices.

My kids like Nutella. For those not familiar with it, Nutella looks like a chocolate spread, so to the untrained eye my children are eating a chocolate sandwich. In these days of hyped up healthy eating-isms, chocolate is bad!

At some point, early in the year, I find myself explaining:

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