I love chocolate in all its wonderful forms, but there’s something magical about the pairing of chocolate and hazelnuts. That would explain the wild popularity of Nutella around the globe, but the actual Nutella brand is, frankly, full of junk (including dairy). Given how easy it is to make a healthy vegan version with zero sacrifice to richness or flavor, I love to whip up a jar every few months to enjoy with fresh strawberries, on top of smoothie bowls, or by the spoonful when I need a little treat (meaning every day). 

One of my secrets to achieving decadent results in desserts made with nuts is to first toast the nuts. With just a few minutes in the oven, nuts’ natural oils begin to release and become so much more fragrant and delicious. The same goes with coconut. 

Another trick? Adding a touch of sea salt to sweets can greatly elevate the flavor profile, and this Healthy Vegan Nutella is no different. Savor every luscious spoonful!

Makes 1-1/2 cups

 What you need:

  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 14 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup 100% dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup water

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a large baking sheet, place hazelnuts and toast for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer warm hazelnuts to a clean dish towel. Wrap up towel and rub until most skins come off. Discard skins. 
  3. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. While melting, into a food processor or high-speed blender, add hazelnuts, salt, and dates. Blend until it starts to resemble nut butter. 
  4. To the nut butter mixture, add melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Add water and blend until creamy.  

Healthy hints:

  • >> Nut butters taste so much better at room temperature. I store mine in glass jars in the pantry and love dolloping on everything from fresh fruit to chocolate!

  • >> If starting with pre-toasted hazelnuts, toast for 5 minutes to freshen and release some of the natural oils.

  • >> Prefer to use cacao powder instead of raw chocolate? Simply replace the chocolate with ¼ cup cacao powder and increase the water to 1 cup.