It's hard to believe it's already that time again! No, not Valentine's Day, although, that too. I'm talking about World Nutella Day, the day where all Nutella fans worldwide celebrate the wonder and sheer joy of of this creamy, velvety, and totally addictive chocolate-hazelnut spread.
According to its web site, Nutella was first created in the mid-1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry chef and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, cocoa was in short supply because of rationing due to World War II, so chocolate was very limited. To stretch the cocoa, Ferrero added hazelnuts, which were much more plentiful, and thus, a legend was created!
Since its first appearance on the culinary scene, Nutella has become much more than a popular after-school snack. It is literally a cultural and social phenomenon, not only in its native country, Italy, but all the world over. Nutella is marketed in over seventy-five countries across the globe, and outsells all brands of peanut butter combined worldwide!
World Nutella Day is the brainchild of bloggers, Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy, who felt that it was high time that Nutella had an official holiday of its own. So in 2007, they took action, and World Nutella Day was born.
When trying to figure out what to make for my entry this year, I decided to stay true to myself and put together a dish that reflected my absolute favorite way to enjoy Nutella - with bananas. When I was a kid, Nutella and banana sandwiches were part of my daily routine, often topped with a splotch of marshmallow creme. I didn't think it could ever get much better than that, until .....Paris.
Most people associate their first trip to Paris with falling in love. Falling in love with the art, the music, the fashion, the breads and pastries, the Seine and of course, that "special someone". When I went to Paris, I also loved all of those things, but what captured my heart for all eternity were those marvelously light and delicate crepes filled with Nutella and chunks of banana from the hundreds of stands that dot almost every street corner in the city. Forget those fancy patisseries and bistros! I longed for those crepes - and lots of 'em!
I've tried to replicate them at home many times, and.....well.....let's just say that I'm somewhat "crepe impaired" (meaning I suck at making crepes). You know the old "beauty from within" cliche? Well, that applies to my crepes. They always taste fabulous, but they look pretty pathetic. Not something that I'd want to show you pictures of!
Instead, I decided use one of my new kitchen toys to make you something using the same concept, only in a different way: Nutella and Banana Filled Aebleskiver!
Aebleskiver or Ebelskiver are traditional Danish pancakes in the distinctive shape of a ball. They're made in a special pan like the one above and are solid like a pancake, but light and fluffy inside like a popover. They can be made plain and topped with powdered sugar or maple syrup, or they can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as jam, fruit or chocolate.
Aebleskiver are not much more difficult to make than regular pancakes, but you do need to have one of those special pans. Fortunately, you can find them at many kitchen stores and lots of places online, like Amazon, Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, among others. I even saw them at Target. Prices range from about $15.00-$40.00.
To make these Aebleskiver, I started with the recipe on the back of the box that the pan came in. From there, I took bits and pieces from a few other recipes I found on the web. I ended up with what I think is a really good one. My Aebleskiver were lightly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The Nutella and banana were the perfect oozey, schmoozey filling. If I closed my eyes, I could almost hear Edith Piaf singing in the background!
If you're already wise to the delights of Aebleskiver, then by all means, give these a try. If not, these would be a great initiation. I plan to make these lovely, pillowy pockets of deliciousness often.
Nutella and Banana Filled Aebleskiver
4 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1 banana, sliced into quarters lengthwise and then into small chunks
1 tablespoon melted butter for pan
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla and butter. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine the yolk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well blended. The batter will be a little lumpy. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites in two additions.
Heat an Aebleskiver pan over medium heat and brush each well with melted butter. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the batter into each well. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella and 1-2 chunks of banana to each well. Then top off each well with enough batter to fill.
Cook about 3 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and bubbly around the edges, Quickly turn each Aebleskiver over, using a long wooden skewer or toothpick, trying not to puncture the balls. Continue cooking until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes more.
Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve immediately.
Makes about 35.
Here are some other Nutella recipes you might like from the SGCC archives: