World Nutella day found me unprepared this year. I’m in a period when my relationship with food is changing. I feel a need to become lighter and less cluttered in general, and part of it is reflecting in the way I eat. I have started again some physical activity, and although I am quite limited by my ongoing knee problems, I have recovered all of my addiction to moving. I finally feel my body becoming more compact, more flexible, the way I am used to feeling it. In this picture I just don’t crave unhealthy food that much. But everything in moderation, including moderation. It is World Nutella Day after all, and such occasion should not go unnoticed.
So in the spirit of eating something nice but not burdensome to my blood sugar levels, and to try this brilliant idea for a crustless pie, I made some mini pies. To go with the Nutella theme, I swapped pears for apples and added hazelnut butter and cocoa powder to the filling. I am not sure if you have already taken the plunge and invested in a jar of almond or other nut butter. It is quite easy to find them in health food stores all over Europe. They are relatively expensive, but I found that to be a good investment. I started out with almond butter to use in this gorgeous and light lemon cake (by the way, Clea’s blog is choked full of inspirations on how to use almond butter). Since I had it in my cupboard, I tried this oven version of fried chicken, and although I am not a fan of ’light’ versions, this is so good it has become a regular round here. From there, I’m never without one or the other type of nut butters. I use hazelnut butter to add a special touch to soups and fillings. If you don’t want to buy a whole jar, whizzing some hazelnuts with a heavy-duty food processor will probably give you the same effect – the butter I used was not very smooth. There is also, very aptly, a post on how to make homemade almond butter right on Sara’s site, Ms. Adventures in Italy, one of the founders of World Nutella Day!
The result was a surprise. It tasted a lot like Nutella, a nice and creamy consistency paired with the floral quality of pears. It also happens to be vegan, if you don’t substitute anything. Probably a one pie presentation is nicer if you want to slice it, but I found the little round snacks to be quite convenient for me, just the right size. I cooked some in a cupcake case and others without. I was able to slide both off without problems but the ones with the case were neater.
Very Dark Nutella Curd (2010)
Nutella truffles (2011)
Nutella cookies (2011)
Nutella pear crustless mini pies
Ingredients: (makes about 4-5 small pies)
3 conference pears, medium
1 teaspoon cornstarch (or other thickener like rice flour)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons of sugar (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons hazelnut butter (replace sugar, cocoa and hazelnut butter with 2 tablespoons of Nutella)
Chopped hazelnuts for sprinkling on top
Heat oven to 180 degrees. Remove the skin from pears using a potato peeler. Cut slices about 1-2 mm thick from both sides of pears, then cut off the remaining pulp and cut it into smaller dice. Blend pear dice and water, add to saucepan, stir in cornstarch, salt, cocoa, sugar and hazelnut butter. Bring to the boil on low heat and cook until slightly thick and with a creamy consistency. Arrange pear slices in cupcake cases set inside a cupcake or muffin pan – or use a slightly buttered pie pan. Make a layer of pear slices, trimming them as needed, then spread some cocoa and hazelnut cream on it. Keep layering until you fill your pan – for my shallow one this was about three pear layers. Finish with a sprinkle of roughly chopped hazelnuts. Bake for about twenty minutes until the filling in bubbling and the pears are soft. Leave to cool.