For a product that enjoys a reputation as a cult favorite, Nutella is surprisingly ubiquitous: it’s sold in 75 countries at a rate of one jar every 2.5 seconds worldwide and its maker, Ferrero, buys a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply, producing enough jars of Nutella each year to cover the Great Wall of China eight times over. Plus World Nutella Day—which is essentially just an excuse to eat the chocolate-hazelnut spread—is coming up on February 5.
Not surprisingly, Watershed bartender Jacob Huelster was already quite familiar with Nutella when David McCabe of Osteria Langhe challenged him to create a cocktail with it. “At first I was a little worried,” Huelster says. “It seemed a bit pedestrian. But when I started working with it, I found that it’s actually pretty difficult.” Huelster first consulted the book The Flavor Bible to see what it recommends pairing with hazelnut. Garlic was one suggestion. “Garlic does go well with hazelnuts, and it does not go great with chocolate, I found out. That was a dead end,” Huelster says.
Even after rejecting garlic as an ingredient, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Because Nutella contains palm oil, it doesn’t mix easily into liquids, Huelster discovered. He remembered using egg to emulsify salad dressing, and found that the technique worked in his cocktail as well—though he says that a whole egg made the cocktail “rather yolky,” so he decided to use only the white.
Egg also worked with Huelster’s theme: after reminiscing about how he used to eat Nutella on toast for breakfast growing up, he says, he went for a “breakfasty feel” for his cocktail. Wheat whiskey added a bit of bready flavor, while milk-stout whipped cream “has a nice little yeast flavor, almost a bit Marmite-ish, sticking with the toast concept.” Amaro added depth to the cocktail, which he dubbed Deeez Nuuutella. Still, Huelster says, “chocolate and hazelnut are the stars.”
Huelster has challenged Paul Kim of Cafe Marie-Jeanne to create a cocktail with Cabot Cheddar Shake, a dehydrated and powdered cheddar cheese.
One egg white
1 T Nutella
.5 oz CH Amaro
1.5 oz Journeyman Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey
Milk-stout whipped cream*
Add all ingredients except whipped cream and hazelnut to a shaker with a few ice cubes and shake until the Nutella is incorporated. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and top with milk-stout whipped cream and a hazelnut.
*Milk-stout whipped cream: Combine one part Noon Whistle Bernie Milk Stout with two parts heavy cream and whip, then add sugar to taste.