Maple Walnut Nutella

On occasion I like to reverse engineer commercially made products, mainly because doing something homemade is always better than a large factory. One such product is Nutella. If you look at the ingredients it’s largely corn starch and refined sugar. Neither of those are particularly pleasant in large doses, so I decided to do something different.

I looked at it as a kind of emulsion so I thought of it like a dessert mayonnaise. Instead of using the typical egg yolk, I used a flax seed and water combination. Flax seed has a unique property that if you simmer it with water for a short period, you encourage the soluble fibres to dissolve in the water, making a gelatinous-like product with a similar texture to eggs. It makes an excellent substitute for eggs in baking and as I found, an excellent substitute for eggs in a mayonnaise-like emulsion.

I enjoy the flavour of walnuts a little more than hazelnuts, so I decided to do a walnut version of Nutella. And as with anything to do with walnuts, a natural sweet pairing is maple syrup, but one could use an equivalent amount of honey.

Maple Walnut Nutella

Flax “Egg”

1 cup water

2 Tbsp Gold Forest Grain flax seeds

In a small saucepan, add the water and flax seeds. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then lower the heat to medium low and simmer without stirring for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain the flax seeds, keeping the gelatinous liquid. Discard the used flax seeds. Refrigerate the liquid for 20 minutes.

For the Maple Walnut Nutella:

1 cup walnuts

1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract (or the scraped beans from a vanilla pod)

1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)

In a blender, add the prepared flax “egg,” walnuts, maple syrup and cocoa powder. Purée until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil until you hear the emulsion thicken. There will be an audible sound of the mixture tightening up and getting thick like an extra thick mayonnaise. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and stir in the vanilla and maple extract (if using). Makes about 2 cups. Keep refrigerated.

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Apple Cinnamon Calzones

I use Gold Forest Grains wheat products for my baking, a local Alberta grower of heritage varieties of wheat, rye, barley, and flax. Using older varieties of wheat involves more work because they haven’t been bred to have qualities that most people assume because of modern wheat: Qualities like lower moisture, genetic selection of stretchiness that is easier to manipulate for high speed dough kneading machines used in large factory bread production. The use of Red Fife and other heritage varieties involves what I call “The Grandma Approach.” The days when your grandma used to lovingly stand and knead her dough, adding a bit of flour or water as the dough needed. When you asked for a recipe, she would say, “Whatever is needed. It’s different every time.” This was true because with heritage varieties, you get variability in gluten and natural oils from season to season. I’ve realized this when working with heritage varieties of wheat. When I write recipes mentioning the use of Gold Forest Grains wheat products, keep in mind there is more inherent moisture. If you use conventional wheat in any of the written recipes here, adjust it by either adding about 20% more liquid or a comparable amount less flour. But when you have the unique flavours of a Red Fife or Park wheat variety, conventional modern flour is kind of boring…..
Apple Cinnamon Calzone

Dough:

1 cup Gold Forest Grain Soft White flour

2 cups Gold Forest Grain Red Fife flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

3/4-1 cup warm water

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 Tbsp Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed honey

1 tsp vinegar *See Note

In a large bowl, combine the Soft White and Red Fife flour with the salt, whisking to combine evenly. Make a depression in the dry ingredients and add the oil, warm water, yeast and honey. Stir with some of the flour and allow the yeast to bloom for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly. Stir the remaining dry ingredients into the bubbly yeast mixture, add the vinegar and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes, adding a bit of water if the dough is too dry and add a bit of flour if it is still sticky. When the dough is soft, stretchy and no longer sticky, place in a bowl that’s been lightly oil, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour.

*Note: The small addition of vinegar adds with the promotion of stretched gluten strands. If I were to use a wild gathered sourdough starter it would have a similar effect, but making my own sourdough isn’t always possibly, so a small amount of an acidic ingredient helps with the kneading. A comparable amount of full fat sour cream would be equally helpful.

Filling:

5 cups thinly sliced Honey Crisp apple (or other tart, crisp apple variety)

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

3 Tbsp Gold Forest Grain Soft White flour

In a medium bowl, combine the apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow some of the juices to “weep” from the apples and become absorbed by the flour.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 6 equal balls of dough, each about the size of a large plum. Roll each ball of dough into a circle, about 22cm/8″ in diameter. Pile some of the prepared apple filling on one half of the circle, leaving a lip along the edge of the dough of about 2cm/1″. Fold over the dough to encapsulate the filling. Pinch the seam closed, crimping decoratively to ensure a tight seal. Using a paring knife, slash a few opening in the top of the enclosed parcel to ensure venting of steam in the oven. Place on the prepared pan and allow to rise for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Brush each calzone with 1 Tbsp of melted butter before going in the oven. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Makes 6 calzones.