In an ideal world, there would be a separate court system for left-brainers and right-brainers, so that the left-brainers could show up on the appointed date, at the appointed time (or ten minutes early) with all their paperwork in hand, and us right-brainers could show up when we feel like it, having forgotten most of what’s important. In an ideal world, however, everything would be relative, like ‘ah, young lady I see you holding your mobile telephone while driving, but I also acknowledge that you aren’t texting, merely looking at a map, and that the streets are empty so you are a danger to nobody’ or ‘ah, young lady, I see you are going fifteen MPH above the speed limit, but it’s also an empty stretch of freeway and your car is built to withstand such speeds beautifully’. In this ideal world, very old trees would be respected as would very old people. In this ideal world, a woman’s body would be her own, not the State’s, and in this world, nobody would have come up with the silly idea of calories. Yes, calories.
You see, I have recently discovered that you cannot, in Los Angeles, get anybody to take a jar of Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread*. People back away, terror sticken, holding their hands out in front of them to prevent you coming any closer. I usually pawn off my baked goods with the preface ‘it’s healthy’ or ‘it’s gluten-free’ after which people eat it gladly (note that I fail to mention the butter or sugar content for aforementioned reasons) but with something so similar to Nutella, everybody knows that it’s not healthy, and that you can’t just have one bite and put the jar away. No, there is no putting this jar away. It might be physiologically impossible.
And for the record, I think this backing away is utterly stupid behaviour. Because I firmly and fully believe that if something is eaten without a single shred of guilt, then it doesn’t end up stuck to hips and jowls and places we don’t want them. And that a stick of celery, when eaten stressfullythinkingaboutcaloriecontent will likely make you go up a clothing size, whereas an entire pizza and soda will not, if eaten properly**. Things eaten with pleasure in mind are usually hard to over eat. Relishing the aroma, flavour and texture of something, you actually experience it fully, not in the background while your brain does battle with your will. No. Battlegrounds are not for eating. In many herbal traditions, people are told to not eat while stressed or angry. It makes sense– all that mental stuff churning, not only do you not experience your food at all, but oftentimes your digestion isn’t even working properly when your body is in high stress mode. And a mental battle is stress mode.
So, my friends, if you are likely to feel nothing but immense guilt over indulging in something this deliciously fatty and sweet, it’s better not to make it at all. And if you do make it, promise me that you’ll eat it somewhere quiet, with closed eyes and ‘mmmm’s and ‘ooooooh’s and smiles and twinkling eyes and holding hands and warm blankets and glittering stars and all the good things in the world.
And it’s perfect. Perfect for spreading on toast and eating with a spoon and playfully putting on someone’s nose when they lean in to smell it. Perfect for mid-afternoon snacks and ‘oh, I’ll just check what’s going on in the fridge because it’s been a good hour since I last checked’. See, perfect.
ps. How nice is the word ‘filbert’. I have been saying it over and over again, all day, because it rolls around in the mouth so nicely.
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
1 cup hazelnuts (filberts)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tb sugar (I use sucanat)
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz milk chocolate
3oz dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350. Lay out your filberts on a baking tray, and roast for 10 minutes, until the papery shells come off easily when you rub them. You might not be able to get all of them off, and it’ll be fine, just try and get as much as you can.
Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt the chocolates.
Put all the ingredients into a blender at the same time, and blend until very smooth.
Store in airtight jars. Use within 10 days.
*Eventually the lovely Amelia took one, because she’s not scared of food. Yay.
**by ‘properly’ I mean with attention and enjoyment