Nut milks have been taking home kitchens by storm lately, and it isn’t hard to figure out why. If non-dairy milks are your thing, going the homemade route has plenty of benefits. Besides just tasting way better than the cartoned stuff (as if you need more reasons than that), it is totally customization, and turns out rich and creamy without all those additives (carrageenan, I’m looking at you) and preservatives used in store bought nut milks.
Plus, it’s super easy to make. Simple is a must when it comes to something you want to have on hand at all times. (Let’s get real here, while I might love homemade ketchup, I’m probably not going to make it fresh each week. Nut milk, on the other hand…)
Personally, I love dairy milk. I grew up drinking fresh cows milk, and to this day I get major dairy cravings if I go too long without it. (My mother always said that when she was pregnant with me, her biggest craving was yogurt, so maybe that explains my obsession with the stuff.) But even so, I still find myself using dairy free milks in a lot of what I make. My go to dairy substitute is almond milk, but to be completely honest, it isn’t my favorite thing to drink. It’s not bad, but it just doesn’t have the same richness I’m used to from whole milk.
Then it occurred to me, as I was roasting hazelnuts last week: why stop at almonds? Roasted hazelnuts are like little bombs of flavor just waiting to go off, and if I were to turn that into milk… well, all of that flavor would be harnessed, and could be added to just about anything. Like my morning coffee, or baked goods, or used to make hot cocoa or chocolate milk. Do you see where I’m going with this? Let me help you out: Nutella milk. Problems of the world, solved.
Unlike other nut milks, hazelnut milk has a TON of richness. Not because it’s any fattier than any other nut milk, but because it has so much flavor. Use it like creamer in your coffee and you will be one happy camper (I know I am).
When it comes to hazelnut hot cocoa, a little goes a long way. The combination of rich dark chocolate and totally decadent hazelnut milk almost reminds me of thick Italian hot chocolate. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I added a dollop of whipped cream on top, either.
(And yes, you could absolutely use coconut whipped cream here, if you want to keep things vegan, or just add an awesome kick of coconut flavor.)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cup of cocoa that needs my full, undivided attention.
- For the hazelnut milk:
- 2 cups roasted and skinned hazelnuts*
- 4 cups water, plus more as needed
- small pinch of salt
- ½ vanilla bean (or ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract), optional
- 2-3 tsp. pure maple syrup, honey, a few pitted dates, or other sweetener, optional
- For the hazelnut hot cocoa:
- 3-4 oz. good quality dark chocolate, or vegan chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups hazelnut milk
- Optional: fresh whipped cream, or coconut cream, for serving
- Add the hazelnuts, water, and salt, and the vanilla (if using), to your blender. Optionally, you can add in a little maple syrup or other sweetener (if you're using dates, you need to add them now -- otherwise, if you're using a liquid sweetener, you can hold off until the nut milk is finished and add a little to taste).
- Blend thoroughly until the liquid is thick and cloudy, and the hazelnuts are very finely ground, about 1-2 minutes (you may require more or less time depending on your blender). Let the mixture steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Place a large nut milk bag, or a few layers of cheesecloth over a colander, over a large bowl, and slowly pour the milk mixture into the center of it. If you're using cheesecloth, or a smaller nut milk bag, you may have to do this in batches. Pull up the sides of the bag or cheesecloth to form a pouch, and lift it above the bowl to allow the milk to drain through. Squeeze the bottom and sides of the bag or cheesecloth to extract all the liquid you can. Continue until all of the milk has been thoroughly strained. (Set the solids aside, but do not discard them. See recipe notes for tips on how to use the nut solids.)
- Taste the milk, and add any liquid sweeteners you'd like if you feel the milk needs it (I used a couple tsp. maple syrup and found that to be perfect for my taste, but you can adjust accordingly). If you feel the milk is too creamy or rich for you, simply add additional water to thin it down.
- Transfer to a jar or other airtight container, and store in the fridge. Milk should last for 4-5 days. (The milk will separate after a few hours, but that's completely normal. Just give it a good shake before using.)
- Drink it straight, pour it over cereal, add it to your tea or coffee, or make luscious hazelnut hot cocoas with it.
- For the hazelnut hot cocoa:
- In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups of hazelnut milk until bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat, and add the chocolate. Stir until completely melted, and serve immediately. (Or, let cool, then refrigerate for chocolate milk.) Top with fresh whipped cream, or coconut whipped cream, if you like.
Alternatively, you could make this milk with raw hazelnuts, just as you would using almonds. To do so, soak the raw hazelnuts overnight, then drain and proceed with the recipe as written. (This will make a less flavorful milk, but if you prefer the benefits of using raw nuts it will make a perfectly acceptable substitute.)
When making nut milk, I like to save the pulp, rather than discard it. The pulp can be used in recipes like carrot cake or banana bread, or other moist baked goods. (I've successfully added as much as half a cup of nut pulp to this banana oat muffin recipe, with the only real difference being a slightly denser texture.)
To store it, I simply scoop the pulp onto a baking sheet with a ¼ or ½ cup measure (packing each scoop into a mound), then freeze it. Once frozen, I plop the blocks of pulp into a freezer bag and keep them around for future baking.
(P.S., you could totally add a splash of frangelico, rum, or other liquor to make boozy hazelnut hot cocoas. Just sayin'.)
Recipe inspired by Summer of O&O Eats. You can find her recipe for hazelnut milk, HERE.
An outtake from the day’s shoot, for your viewing pleasure:
(Story of my life.)