Food & Drink

Nutella inspires devotion

The animosity about the euro might just be mitigated if European community leaders broke bread together - and topped the bread with chocolate-hazelnut spread.

In America - and indeed, across Europe and elsewhere in the world - the best-known version is Nutella. The Ferrero company traces Nutella's origins to Pietro Ferrero, who formulated a loaf form of what was then called pasta gianduja to extend war-rationed chocolate during World War II.

Yes, this is the same Ferrero company that now makes Ferrero Rocher candies - and also, oddly enough, Tic Tacs. The original loaves evolved into a jarred cream, which was branded as Nutella in 1964 and first sold in America in 1983.

But other chocolate-hazelnut spreads are manufactured in countries across Europe. We collected several for a tasting to see how they compare with Ferrero's standard-bearer and found those with sugar as the first listed ingredient (usually followed by some sort of oil) were unsatisfactory. The best had a listed percentage of hazelnuts in excess of 10 percent.

The classic way to enjoy Nutella is slathered on bread (or crepes), often topped with banana slices. For variation, we've provided recipes for Nutella Ice Cream and (why not?) Sweet and Spicy Nutella-Coated Bacon.

And mark your calendar: Feb. 5 is World Nutella Day. (Really.) The website NutellaDay.com already has more than 500 recipes from its readers. Perhaps you'll create and submit a masterpiece of your own before then.

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