Nutella Cherry Hazelnut Fudge
I am so hyped for holiday baking this year. Not that that is particularly different from any other year, but still. I love all sorts of cookies and most candies but for me, fudge is the ultimate holiday treat. I’m not sure exactly why…maybe because we don’t tend to make fudge at any other time of year, so it seems extra special at the holidays. All I know is that whenever I receive a holiday goody bag or survey a spread of homemade treats, the first question I ask myself: Is there fudge?
As a result of my strong feelings, I almost always include fudge in my holiday treat bags. Normally it’s this cappuccino fudge, my ultimate favorite, but I do like to mix things up occasionally. Last weekend as I browsed through my saved recipes, the sudden idea of this combination stopped me in my tracks. Nutella. Cherries. Hazelnuts. Sea salt. In other words, fudge that is totally drool-worthy. The texture is perfectly rich and smooth and though I normally prefer fudge without mix-ins, how can I argue with cherries and hazelnuts? I totally can’t. Now someone come take this stuff away from me!
Yield: 64 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur)
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ tsp. coarse sea salt flakes, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 250˚ F. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly toasted and the skins have cracked. Transfer the hazelnuts to a clean kitchen towel. Fold half of the towel over the top of the hazelnuts and roll them around gently to help remove the loosened skins. Transfer the skinned hazelnuts to a cutting board and chop coarsely.
Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly with butter. Set a heatproof bowl over a pot with a few inches of simmering water (do not boil). In the bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate, Nutella, butter, and salt. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat. Add the toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries to the bowl and fold in until evenly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. After it has cooled for a few minutes, sprinkle lightly with additional sea salt. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 3-4 hours.
Use the foil to lift the fudge from the pan. Remove and discard the foil. Use a large chef’s knife to slice the fudge into 64 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container.