November 15, 2011

Nutella: The European peanut butter

I grew up eating toast with Nutella every morning as a kid.  Nutella is for Europeans what peanut butter is for Americans – a staple food.  The only difference is that Nutella is a chocolate-hazelnut spread.  Just like with peanut butter, you can indulge yourself in Nutella straight from the jar – a very dangerous thing to do!  For that reason, I try to store my Nutella in the very back of my pantry so that I don’t have easy access to it; otherwise, I could devour it in one sitting, and then go to the store and buy a brand new one.   

I was in middle school when Nutella became extremely popular in Romania.  At first, my mom didn’t really understand what all the fuss was with this new chocolate spread on bread.  She thought that the two didn’t go together at all and hoped that my fixation would just go away.  It didn’t.  In fact, my love for Nutella continued throughout high school.  Every morning, it was the same – toast and Nutella with a cup of tea or cocoa.  This was my ultimate breakfast.  I still love Nutella to this day, although my breakfast choices have evolved since.  However, from time to time, I still like to make myself a nice cup of cocoa and enjoy it with toast and Nutella.  It immediately brings back childhood memories.  

But aside from eating the hazelnut spread from the jar with a spoon or on toast, I also like to make sweet, rich, decadent treats with it.  Anything tastes better with Nutella!  So, when I found Giada’s recipe with Nutella I was immediately hooked, intrigued and ready to try it.  I’ve always loved calzones.  I’ve had calzones before at various pizzerias, like I imagine many of you have, but I’ve never had a dessert calzone, or better said a Nutella calzone.  Let me tell you, these ricotta and chocolate-hazelnut calzones are over the top!  

Ricotta and Chocolate – Hazelnut Calzones
Adapted slightly from Ricotta and Chocolate-Hazelnut Calzones by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves: 6 servings


·         ¾ cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
·         ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
·         1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
·         2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
·         8 ounces frozen strawberries or any other berries you prefer, thawed (I used 16 ounces of frozen strawberries and it worked perfectly)
·         2 Tablespoons sugar
·         2/3 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella), at room temperature
·         3 Tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
·         6 (2-ounce) pieces homemade or purchased pizza dough, cold
·         1 large egg, beaten to blend


Blend the ricotta, mascarpone, egg yolk, and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Transfer the ricotta mixture to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, blend the strawberries and sugar in a clean food processor until smooth.  Transfer the strawberry sauce to a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk the chocolate-hazelnut spread and cream in a medium bowl to blend.

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out each piece of pizza dough into a 7-inch-diameter round.  Spoon the ricotta mixture atop the center of the lower half of each pizza dough.  Spoon the chocolate-hazelnut mixture atop the cheese mixture.  Brush the upper edges of the dough with egg wash.  Fold the plain dough halves over the filling, forming half circles.  Pinch the edges of dough firmly together to seal.  Using a pastry wheel, trim the edges to make them look pretty.  If you don’t have a pastry wheel, don’t worry, just use a fork and press on the edges – that’s what I did and I was pleased with the final product.  Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Brush the tops of the calzones with more egg wash.  Bake until the calzones puff and become golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.  Transfer the calzones to plates and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.  Drizzle the strawberry sauce around the calzones and serve.  

The sweet cheese mixture is light, the chocolate is rich and creamy, and the strawberry sauce is tart and brightens up the flavor and color of these sweet pockets.  They are unique, chocolaty, totally different, and a definite must-try

1 comment:

  1. La NUTELLA è nata in ITALIA...che emozione!!!!!!!!!!! :D