In Europe, the equivalent to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the nutella sandwich. Nutella is a heavenly blend of hazelnuts, cocoa, sugar, milk and oil and is deliciously spread between a chunk of French or hearty whole-grain bread. It’s the common school lunch fare in Italy and beyond! It is a popular filling for crepes in France. It’s a cultural icon in Europe and is included in many books and movies. Gaining popularity in the United States since its introduction to our markets in 2000, it’s available in many grocery stores next to the peanut butters and jams.
Nutella was created in Italy’s Piedmonte region by Pietro Ferrero during World War II when there was a shortage of cocoa. Native hazelnut trees were and still are abundant on the hills around Alba, and the hazelnuts were used as a filler with great success. A smililar product, Eurocrem, is made in my native Serbia and you may be familiar with Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Wrapped in gold foil, it’s a multilayered confection with a hazelnut in the middle, encased by a layer of nutella, a wafer shell, milk chocolate and chopped nuts. It’s one of my favorite chocolate treats!
I took the following picture during a fabulous trip to Piedmonte a little over a year ago. Piedmonte, ‘foot of the mountains’, is situated in the northwestern part of Italy, at the foot of the Alps. The hazelnut orchard (in the foreground and middleground in the photograph) is nestled between the vineyards of the rolling hills of the Langhe hills near Alba:
Nutella is so versatile, I’ve used it in many different ways – to make ice-cream, mousses, cakes, cookies, as a filling for crepes, on toast, and as a dip for fruit. The way my chocoholic and nutella addict daughter, Emilia enjoys it is a spoonful straight out of the container! I was scanning my pantry for inspiration for today’s World Nutella Day recipe, when my eyes fell on a bag of chocolate pasta. Perfetto! I had some strawberries in the fridge and a ripe banana and I put together a simple but delicious dessert you could make in no time!
Nutella sauce with chocolate pasta and fruit
8 ounces chocolate pasta
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) nutella
1 cup cream
8 strawberries, washed and halved
1 banana, sliced
whipped cream and chopped, toasted hazelnuts (or any other nut) for topping.
Cook pasta until ‘el dente’ (cooked but still firm). While pasta is cooking place cream and nutella in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals until nutella is soft and the cream is hot. Blend nutella and cream together with a whisk until smooth. Drain the pasta and divide between four serving bowl. Pour nutella sauce over pasta and top with strawberries, banana slices, whipped cream and toasted nuts. It’s that simple!
To see what other nutella lovers are doing today start at these two addicted ladies’ sites: Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso. For a good laugh, see what The Top Ten Signs You’re Addicted to Nutella are! If you are a nutella virgin or to find out what type of nutella lover you are or want to know 50 ways to eat nutella go to nutella virgin and enjoy!