Homemade sugar-free Nutella happened
I knew I had to try to get something with hazelnuts onto my sugar-free chocolate menu, because chocolate-hazelnut is one of my favorite flavor combinations ever. Hello Nutella. I did not grow up with this stuff, but my world expanded in more ways than one when I studied abroad in Paris. There, my diet primarily consisted of only the finest of foods: fresh bread, cheese, and Nutella (…this is only a slight exaggeration). Nutella crepes were my most treasured discovery, and I had my favorite crepe stand on the south bank near St Germaine, open into the wee hours, that would slather massive dollops of nutella onto the thinnest crepe so each bite simply oozed warm nutella. And there may have been one or two occasions when my dinner consisted of nutella-dipped strawberries with a glass of chilled white wine to wash it down…. oh to be twenty and care-free!
Sadly, the days of dipping a spoon into a jar of Nutella are behind me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t indulge in this delicious flavor combination from time to time, especially since I can now officially say I’ve successfully made a sugar-free version of homemade nutella. Not only that, but I’ve come up with a delicious carb-free way to get this decadent treat back into my life without the guilt: a raw chocolate hazelnut pie.
Developing the (mostly) raw chocolate hazelnut pie
Even though it’s mostly raw, this creation was my most ambitious culinary adventure yet. First I had to make sure the crust would stay intact without dried fruit (like dates) to bind. Furthermore, this was my first ever attempt at making nut butter from scratch, as well as going through the whole process of soaking and dehydrating and de-skinning my hazelnuts the proper way. The whole soaking process makes the nuts much more easily digestible, therefore even healthier. So yes, it is recommended.
The de-skinning process was like de-seeding a pomegranate: an affair that requires a fair bit of patience and a really good show to watch in the meantime. And, it was only the second method of de-skinning I tried that proved to be successful. So I guess the laborious part of this recipe was simply the proper preparation of nuts – if you have the patience and ability to plan in advance.
So I soaked and dried my nuts. Once the hazelnuts were prepared and sufficiently dried, I made my raw pie crust – with the nuts ready to go, this part was actually a cinch. The rest of the process was pretty simple – more or less throw the nut butter ingredients in the food processor and wait until it becomes the consistency of nut butter. I did have to monitor the process and scrape the sides of the processor several times (to be fair like I said I don’t have the best food processor), but making nut butter isn’t really too tricky! It just requires some patience.
My patience was rewarded: I wound up with a full jar of homemade nutella! All natural, sugar-free, delicious nut butter.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse: The magic of Aquafaba
Then on to the next step: The filling. I really didn’t have a particular recipe in mind when I decided to make an all natural, sugar-free, raw chocolate-hazelnut pie. I started with the easy part – the foundation of a chocolate hazelnut crust – then just decided I should try making this chocolate hazelnut butter, then thought I might try aquafaba mousse as a filler since it’s light. I wasn’t entirely sure where it would all take me, but it sounded good in my head.
So I made the aquafaba chocolate mousse then put the pieces together: I spread a thin layer of the chocolate hazelnut butter over the base of the chilled raw hazelnut cocoa crust, then spread the chilled aquafaba mousse over the butter to top it all off.
And when it was all assembled and done, I took a bite: sure enough, what sounded good in my head tasted amazing in my mouth. Insanely good. Each element on it’s own is delicious, but together it’s just magic. I also tried just the hazelnut cocoa crust and mousse filling for a lighter, vegan* version of the pie – a completely delicious alternative – but the addition of the hazelnut spread is just wow.
*The simpler mousse & crust combo is vegan – the nut butter contains some ghee.
Mostly Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Pie Recipe
What you need for the pie crust:
- 1 cup hazelnuts (soaked and dehydrated)
- 1/8 cup almond butter
- 1/8 cup cocoa powder
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp stevia extract
What you need for the filling:
- A few tablespoons homemade sugar-free Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (skip if vegan, or attempt the untested vegan version)
- Aquafaba – aka brine from one can or container of chickpeas
- 1 cup chopped baking chocolate
- Organic stevia to sweeten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
How to make the crust:
- Finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor, 3-5 minutes.
- Add almond butter, cocoa powder, sea salt, and stevia then blend until thoroughly combined.
- Scoop the batter into your pie mold and press down firmly so the base is completely covered with an even layer. You should have enough to cover the sides about halfway in a standard 9″ pie tin. If you choose, you may just cover the base.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
How to make the filling:
- Make the sugar-free chocolate hazelnut butter if using.
- Place a strainer over the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if just using a hand mixer) and empty the Aquafaba/chickpea brine out of the can or container. It’s also possible to make homemade Aquafaba by soaking your own chickpeas.
- Place the bowl in your stand mixer, add the vanilla, and beat the brine until it forms white peaks.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate using a double boiler and stir in stevia. Do not overcook the chocolate – remove from heat just as last bits are melting, stir to ensure it’s all melted, and allow to cool slightly.
- When the aquafaba is nice and fluffy, gently fold in the chocolate using a spatula, stirring ever so slightly until just combined.
- Chill the mousse in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, or as long as overnight.
How to assemble the pie:
- Optional: carefully remove the pie crust from the mold.
- When the mousse is properly chilled, spread your chocolate hazelnut butter over the base of the pie, creating a thin layer. (Skip if making vegan).
- Using a spatula, scoop the mousse onto the pie and spread evenly.
- Chill the pie until ready to serve.
- Optional: garnish with toasted hazelnuts, cacao, nibs, a sprinkle of cinnamon, or all of the above!