If I had a dime for every person who ever said to me “I can cook but I can’t bake to save my life”, I would be a rich woman. Funny how certain personalities can be intimidated by baking. True, it often requires a little bit more preparation or precision than just throwing something together, adding salt and spices as pots simmer along but there are foolproof desserts that are better options than something store-bought.
As we are entering a sugar laden time of indulgence, filled with boxes of home-made cookies and other delicacies exchanging hands and piling up in the kitchen, I thought I would share a 5 minute recipe (ok, 20 if you count the baking time) that will make you shine. Yesterday, as I handed out samples of these Nutella ribbons to some co-workers at the Cafe where I work, one of the girls, wide-eyed, pronounced them as the best thing she ever ate. A bit of an overstatement which is, nonetheless, making me re-think the 16 crepes layer cake I am planning for my Christmas lunch – but anything containing Nutella can have that effect on people.
As a child, during long Summer afternoons in the country, I would wait for my mother to disappear for her customary nap, and I would slip into the kitchen, that still smelled of lunch and of clean dishes, and I would retrieve the Nutella jar from the pantry. I would fill an espresso cup with my all time favourite spread and sit on the patio,in the searing heat, licking the tiny coffee spoon, ever so slowly, relishing every chocolate-hazelnut bite. Left to my own devices, I could probably consume an entire Nutella jar in one sitting.
All this recipe needs is some store-bought puff pastry sheets and a jar of Nutella. (If you feel ambitious and want to make your own puff pastry, e-mail me and I will walk you through a tutorial). Optional are some nuts to add crunchiness (hazelnuts would be best but I used almonds that I had on hand) and an egg to brush the pastry with for added color. You might want to wrap these treats and box them and use them as gifts. In my world, they don’t last long enough to go anywhere past my kitchen. My justification being that puff pastry is much better eaten straight out of the oven.
RECIPE – Yields roughly 16 to 20 pieces
1 box all butter pastry sheets (typically there are two rectangles to a box)
1 jar Nutella
a handful of chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or pecans)
- Remove the pastry from the freezer and let defrost until pliable but not too soft.
- With a spatula, spread a generous and thick amount of Nutella over one of the sheets (I used about half a jar). Scatter the nuts over the Nutella, if using.
- Press the second sheet over the first and seal the edges by pressing firmly with your fingers.
- Break the egg with a fork (if using) and brush it over the top sheet of pastry. With a knife, cut 1” strips along the shorter side of the rectangle (or along the longer side if you want longer sticks).
- Pick up the strips from their edges and twist them. With the longer strips, you can actually form some pretty bows.
- Rest them over a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with sugar if desired, and bake them at 375 F (190C) for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
- If you have any left overs on day 2, re-heat them in a 300F (150C) oven for a few minutes.
For the food buffs out there, Nutella was first invented around 1940 by Pietro Ferrero, the founder of the Ferrero company. Based near Turin, in Piedmont, where hazelnuts are abundant, Mr. Ferrero thought they would nicely bulk up his chocolate products, at a time when chocolate was extremely scarce. Little did he know his recipe would still be unmatched 70 years later!