Guest post, recipe and photos by Brenda (@mightyvanilla)
Banana Shake with Hazelnut & Chocolate Puree Recipe
With the success of the Almond Puree from the Caramelized Fennel, Almond & Orange Confit Salad recipe, I wanted to try the same technique using one of my favourite nuts: hazelnuts. To make things more interesting and experimental, I decided to add chocolate and cocoa for a homemade version of Nutella.
The technique for the hazelnut and chocolate puree is essentially the same as for the almond puree. When I was making the hazelnut version, I stirred some chopped dark chocolate into the warm simmered hazelnuts just before the mixture was blended. In hindsight, I should have waited until after the nuts were pureed to add the chocolate because the chocolate made the mixture thicker and more difficult to blend. I had also guesstimated the amount of chocolate to add and found that the flavour of the chocolate in the puree was not as intense as I wanted so I added in some cocoa at the very end. Chocolate is made up of cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar so using it in the puree adds richness and flavour, whereas using pure cocoa primarily adds flavour. If you’re after a more intense chocolate flavour, then I would recommend only using cocoa.
I plan on making this again but next time I’ll make just the hazelnut puree first and stir in melted chocolate or cocoa by hand at the very end. (Practical experimentation is one of the best ways to learn in the kitchen, as is constantly tasting and adjusting along the way.)
I told Mijune about the hazelnut & chocolate puree and she gave me an idea about trying it in a frozen banana shake. The original recipe, National Almond Day Almond Shake, uses almond butter and soy milk but I adapted it to use the hazelnut chocolate puree and regular cow’s milk. For garnishing the shake, I borrowed an idea from the Ya Mon cocktail by David Wolowidnyk at West Restaurant + Bar and garnished the shake with brûléed banana slices. (The Ya Mon is essentially a boozy version of a banana and tropical smoothie and it’s one of my favourite cocktails.)
For the banana shake, it’s essential that the bananas are frozen because they give the shake a thick and creamy texture while still keeping it healthy and light. The hazelnut & chocolate puree plus a bit of cinnamon and vanilla rounds the flavours out and complements the bananas nicely.
Hazelnut & Chocolate Puree
Makes about 1 ½ cups of puree
- 3/4 cup (130g) whole hazelnuts, roasted and skinned
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 650 mL milk
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 40g dark chocolate (60% or higher, roughly chopped) or 2-3 Tbsp cocoa (sifted)
- Additional milk as needed for blending
Makes 2 servings
- 2 cups milk (can substitute almond or soy milk)
- 2 large ripe bananas, sliced into quarters and frozen solid
- 2 Tbsp Hazelnut & Chocolate Puree
- 1/2 cup ice (3-4 cubes)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Additional cinnamon for garnishing (optional)
Brûléed Banana Garnish (optional)
- Several slices of ripe banana, cut into 1/2” thickness
- Granulated sugar (about 1/8 – 1/4 tsp per banana slice)
Notes for success
- Keep an eye on the heat when simmering the hazelnuts for the puree. Milk can burn easily as the liquid level drops.
- The hazelnut & chocolate puree makes a lot but the leftovers keep very well and is delicious spread on toast or stirred into yogurt.
- The frozen bananas gives the shakes a smooth creamy texture. The bananas can be cut and frozen the night before you want to make the shake.
- Frozen bananas are great to keep on hand for making shakes and other blended drinks. Simply freeze quartered bananas in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet and store in a freezer bag or vacuum seal them into pre-portioned serving sizes.
- When brûléeing the banana slices, use a low flame and keep it moving over the sugar. The sugar will bubble vigorously at first so allow the initial bubbling to subside before applying more heat. The more sugar you use, the thicker the caramelized sugar layer will be but a thicker layer is more difficult to brûlée evenly.
- For a more intense chocolate flavour, omit the chopped chocolate and stir in 2-3 Tbsp of cocoa after the hazelnut puree is blended.
Hazelnut & Chocolate Puree
If the hazelnuts are not already roasted, roast them in a 350F oven until they are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Stir them halfway through the baking time to ensure even roasting. Place the hot hazelnuts in a large dish cloth and rub them together under the towel; the friction will remove most of the skin. (Alternatively, if you want to get all of the skins off, you can try this method from www.mybakingaddiction.com which calls for boiling unroasted hazelnuts in baking soda water before roasting the nuts.)
Transfer the hazelnuts to a saucepan and add the milk and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, until the nuts are soft enough to puree. If the liquid reduces below the level of the nuts, add water to just cover the nuts. Keep a close eye on the milk to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. If the milk starts to stick to the bottom, turn the heat down and cook the hazelnuts for a longer amount of time. The nuts should have no crunch left before pureeing.
Add sugar to the saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Put the mixture into a (Vitamix) blender and, with the machine running, slowly begin adding enough additional milk to allow the nuts to spin. Continue to add more milk as necessary and blend on high speed for several minutes, stopping to add additional salt to taste and to stir the puree from time to time, until you have a silky smooth puree.
If you are using dark chocolate, roughly chop the chocolate and place it in a small saucepan. Melt it over the lowest heat setting on the stovetop, then add the hazelnut puree and stir until evenly combined. If you are using cocoa, transfer the hazelnut puree to a small bowl or container and stir in the sifted cocoa.
Allow the puree to cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator.
- Place a piece of aluminum foil onto a flat flameproof surface such as an overturned cookie sheet.
- Place the banana slices on the foil and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the slices.
Light a small propane torch and set the flame to a low temperature. Move the flame back and forth over the sugar to evenly melt and caramelize it onto the banana.
Horizontally skewer the banana slices with a toothpick and set aside.
Hazelnut & Banana Shake
- Place the milk, frozen banana, hazelnut & chocolate puree, ice, vanilla and cinnamon into a (Vitamix) blender.
- Start the mixer on low speed and gradually increase the speed to high. Blend on high speed for at least a minute, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Pour the shake into two tall glasses and garnish with a light dusting of cinnamon and the brûléed banana slices. Serve immediately.