Last July, a beloved uncle of mine suddenly passed away. I was in Oregon when I heard the news from my teary mother and, amidst the memories that came flooding back, the thought of Nutella was at the forefront. There is a logic to this.
My uncle was a respected economist but, for most of his life, also loved to analyze food products (which he did for a number of companies). At some point in the ’70’s my mother cared to inform me that my uncle had deemed Nutella a wholesome product so, from then on, Nutella jars could enter my otherwise snack free household. Reading the list of ingredients now, I am not so sure about this “health” claim and I always had the sneaky suspicion that something got lost in translation but never put my theory to the test. As a child starved of all the cookies and assorted “merendine” other kids had access to on a daily basis, I wasn’t about to complain.
When it comes to Nutella, I have little or no restraint. Hidden in the depth of my pantry, the little jar will audibly call my name while I am watching a movie or writing at my laptop, or otherwise minding my own business. I have been known to consume a whole jar in two sittings, which is why Nutella is semi-barred in my household, purchased twice a year at most.
A few years ago I set out to recreate it in the pastry kitchen – really, it’s not hard and, with a lot more hazelnuts and high quality dark chocolate, the end result was more than satisfactory. But it wasn’t Nutella, my personal Proustian madeleine.
So here I give you the easiest dessert in the world, one that requires a jar of Nutella and 10 minutes of your time. Unless you want to make your own puff pastry and/or Nutella. I am available for lessons.
Yields 12 bundles
2 sheets of all butter puff pastry
About one cup of Nutella
24 strawberries, hulled
Sugar for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Defrost the puff pastry (you can place it in the refrigerator the night before) and unfold it on your counter. You want to work with it at the stage when it’s not too hard (it will break) nor too soft (it will stick everywhere). Cut each sheet in 6 squares, about 2 1/2 x 21/2 inches each.
Spread about one heaping tablespoon of Nutella in the center, leaving the edges clean.
Place two strawberries, cut sides down, at the center.
Break the egg yolk with a fork and mix it with a teaspoon of water (or heavy cream, even better) to thin it. With a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush it all over the top of the bundles. Sprinkle them with sugar (crystal sugar will make them even prettier).
Bake for about 15/20 minutes, until golden. Let cool before serving.
Do not make these if home alone. Do not consume in one sitting.