It’s good and familiar to be near a lovingly-stocked kitchen. The cupboards are full of jars and spices and pastes, all the accoutrements that take time to collect. In our new kitchen in Toulouse, our cupboards don’t even have an order, unless you call ‘wherever you can find space, that’s where it goes’ order.
The opposite is true in my parents’ house. There is even a specific baking cupboard, and I need to drag over a chair every time, even though I’m an adult and not short, just to catch a glimpse of the top shelf, packed full of flour, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and random packets of spaghetti and rice because no one is perfect and I suppose the spaghetti and rice need to go somewhere.
A few big bags of hazelnuts are in there at the moment. Most often, they find their way into my dad’s apple and blackberry crumbles, otherwise they seem to sit there, eager for their next adventure out of the cupboard.
Finally, this is their time to shine. I lifted them down yesterday, scattered a mound on a baking tray and roasted them until deep gold and glistening. Another treat in my parents’ kitchen is the food processor. Combine well-stocked shelves, a Magimix and a chef who likes to play, and you create a mess. Organised chaos, I like to think.
Once cool, I poured the nuts, which tinkled merrily, into the food processor and blitzed them. Mercilessly. Before long, a smooth, creamy, unctuous paste filled the machine and kitchen smelled rich and biscuity. Mixed with a little salt and maple syrup, it was ready to eat with my jam-covered toast and porridge, or simply on a spoon.
This should be enough for a week’s worth of breakfast toppings and doesn’t diminish too many of your expensive hazelnuts. Feel free to make a bigger quantity, however.
- 200g hazelnuts
- Maple syrup and sea salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F. Tip the nuts onto a baking tray and, once the oven has reached temperature, pop the tray inside. Toast the nuts for 5 to 10 minutes, checking and moving them around regularly.
- Once the hazelnuts are golden and they are beginning to emit their oils, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool.
- When they have cooled, pour them into the food processor. I used the smaller bowl as this is a small quantity. Blitz the nuts, and as they turn to powder, scrape the sides of the bowl to keep them moving. Eventually, the oils will mix with the powder and turn it all into a paste which liquifies the longer you blitz. I like to keep mine going for a little longer as the sweetener (in this case, the maple syrup) usually thickens the mixture.
- Add a grinding of salt and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Mix again and taste. Add more maple syrup depending how sweet you like it. Further additions of maple syrup will cause the nut butter to thicken but just keep the food processor moving and it will become smooth and glossy again. Scrape it all into a glass jar or a plastic tub and store in a cupboard or on the kitchen surface.