While not as widely consumed as peanut butter is in the US, Nutella is now part of the French diet. It came to France from Italy (the Italian Group Ferrero makes it alongside the Ferrero chocolates, the Kinder Surprise Eggs and Tic-Tacs)... and is now sold all over the world. Nutella, a spread of hazelnut, skim milk and some cocoa), is dangerous because it is addictive and once you start eating a little bit of it, you generally can't stop. You want yet another crêpe with Nutella or another toast with Nutella. As a result, and like everything else, it has to be eaten with moderation!
The afternoon snack, called goûter in France, is a very important meal of the day. Children generally come back home from school (around 5pm; school lasts until 4.30 pm or 6 pm if after-school programs), have their goûter, and then go on with their activities. Growing up, our standard goûter was a piece of fresh baguette with two small squares (carrés) of chocolate (not the big squares chocolate bars are now divided into). 4 squares would make a barre, 6 or 8 barres would make a tablette (a bar)...but we would never get a barre de chocolat at our goûter in my family. Nor would we get a pain au chocolat, nor a croissant! Once in a while, we were allowed petits gâteaux (cookies) and when my mom would buy Nutella, we were allowed to spread some on our baguette in place of carrés de chocolat. That was luxury!
I purchase Nutella in the U.S. for the main reason that I find good cookies relatively expensive, especially when you know how fast my husband (and now children) can eat them! My husband needs sugar when he comes home from work. It does not matter if we are going to have dinner within one hour: he just needs a dose of sugar....petits gâteaux are his petite faiblesse (weak point) and he eats a lot of them! He tries to hide from our children because they are generally about to get dinner (or already had dinner).. so cookies are out of their menu at this time of day... but they know he is the one emptying the boxes of good cookies!
Buying Nutella is a good way to cut on processed cookies; it's also a good way to have my husband skip his evening sugar crave because it requires a little bit more effort to make a Nutella sandwich than to open up the cookies box! He tends to overcome his petite paresse (small lazyness) when he goes to judo and really needs the calories. Psychologically speaking it makes it also easier when I serve them a Nutella sandwich for their goûter: they have a piece of bread with Nutella and that's it; they don't argue for yet another cookie...
That said, I don't offer Nutella to my children every day when we have it at home. A typical goûter is a small piece of fresh fruit with two cookies or unsalted nuts; a few pretzels with a (large) carré of chocolate; Nutella spread on whole-wheat bread or baguette; and, nowadays, more and more home-made cookies and cakes! NOW, everybody is really happy!
The other day, in order to change the goûter menu, I decided to make small cakes and fill them up with Nutella. I had just got new silicone cupcakes molds and it was a perfect excuse to use them as well. Needless to say that the cupcakes got a five-star rating from my children and my husband. They all made sure I had made enough for
Makes about 12 cupcakes
- 2 oz (60 gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200gr) light brown cane sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Vanilla extract
- 1 (130gr) cup of All-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60 gr) of Brown Rice flour (see note)
- 1 ts baking powder
- 1/2 ts salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt
My Personal Comments:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180F)
- Take a teaspoon and make small marbles of Nutella.Put them on a plate. You want to have as many marbles as cupcakes. Cover and refrigerate.
- Stir butter and sugar together until creamy.
- Stir in the eggs, one at at time.
- Add the Vanilla extract.
- Mix flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Add a little bit of the flour mix in the batter, then a little bit of yogurt. Repeat until you have finished all the yogurt. You want to start and finish with flour.
- Put the cupcakes on a baking sheet and divide the dough among the cupcakes.
- Dig one marble of Nutella in each cupcake.
- Cook for 20 minutes.
- Get out of the oven and place on cooling rack.
- I decided to refrigerate the Nutella marbles because it's easier to dig them in the dough. If you don't want to do that to achieve more "melting Nutella", try just to dig Nutella straight into the dough. It's not easy.
- I am trying recipes with gluten-free flours. If you don't have rice flour, you can well make the cakes with just All Purpose Flour (1 1/2 cups total).
- The silicone molds are not the best to use if you want to achieve perfect shape. Since they are not rigid, they move a little bit. It's best to put them on a baking sheet before filling them up. They are great to unmold and easy to clean.