The Taste Test: Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

This ‘hazelnut chocolate spread’ taste test is really, let’s face it, the Nutella taste test. Everyone calls hazelnut chocolate spread Nutella, even if it’s not technically the Nutella. But, if I’m honest, I’m a bit fuzzy on the legality of just calling this collective group of spreads ‘Nutella’ when only one of them actually is the real deal. And even though I seriously doubt anyone in any position to care about any of that is reading this blog, I still feel I should err on the side of caution.

So then: the hazelnut chocolate spread taste test, as I promised you last week. Just go with it.

Really, this post is for my brother. He’s two years younger than me, and when he was a teenager he survived pretty much exclusively on Nutella on toast, Pot Noodle, and jacket potatoes covered in cheese. If he’s reading this then he’s possibly protesting vehemently at this slander of his teenaged dietary habits, and perhaps I am exaggerating. But not by much. Anyway, this is my blog, and I think Max is less able to go suing people than Nutella are, so I can say what I like. Those are the three things I remember him eating most. Consequently, pretty much all the drinking glasses in our kitchen when we were growing up were ex-Nutella jars.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of chocolate spread or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which supermarket had made A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Hazelnut Chocolate Spread


Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
per 100g
Nature’s Store
Aldi – Nutoka

A – Nature’s Store – 5/10

  • A looser mixture, sliding down the spoon, but looks nice and shiny. Tasted immediately very sweet, and felt quite thin and insubstantial in my mouth. Tasted more like cocoa powder than chocolate.

B – Sainsbury’s – 8/10

  • A bit of shine, but not much. Immediately nicer than A – thicker, richer, with a more pronounced chocolate taste and a pleasant texture. Hazelnut flavour coming through well too. Really tasty.

C – Waitrose – 7/10

  • Looks less shiny than the others. Obviously thicker, with more texture – not as smooth as other samples. You can taste the hazelnuts coming through, but it’s a bit too sweet.

D – Aldi – Nutoka – 5/10

  • Quite matte, quite thick, holding itself on the spoon. Tastes very smooth, quite sweet. Fairly unremarkable but not very strong hazelnut taste, and a bit of a cocoa powder aftertaste.

E – Nutella – 7/10

  • Shiny and smooth, moving around quite a bit on the spoon – one of the thinner products but very obviously spreadable. Tastes very creamy and smooth, with hazelnut and chocolate flavours coming through.

F – Tesco – 6/10

  • Thick and firm, very creamy and smooth. Quite sweet though, and not much of a flavour of hazelnut.


Oddly, I have never been a massive hazelnut chocolate spread person. You’d think I would be. But I think I was put off by over-exposure as a teenager. These days I tend to use it in baking (Nutella brownies, anyone?), but not in much else. I do think, in baking, it would make a difference which spread you used here. There was lots of variation in appearance, texture, and flavour between the samples.

It’s worth noting that the Nutella was by far the most expensive product – unsurprisingly, as it’s the brand leader in the world of hazelnut chocolate spread. And it was good. You can see why everyone likes it so much. But I honestly did slightly prefer the Sainsbury’s own brand offering, and if I need hazelnut chocolate spread for anything in the future then that’s the one I am going to go for.


Banana, Date, and Nutella Cupcakes

I hadn’t ridden a bike before I came to Oxford, but you can’t really get away with not doing it when you’re living here. When I gave in and finally got my own bike, I was terrified about riding it on roads. Surely this shouldn’t be allowed? Surely some sensible person will stop me doing this? Surely there must be some sort of training to do before I risk my life dodging irate taxis and oblivious tourists?

There is not. No training. The first time I rode a bike on the road I fell off after about three minutes – on a quiet residential street, luckily – and got a cut and a massive bruise which together looked like the Eye of Sauron on my leg. It took weeks to heal and every time I looked at it I felt judged for my poor cycling ability.


Slowly, slowly, things improved. When I first started cycling, I was so afraid of tackling roundabouts that I would simply get off my bike and walk every time I encountered one. Turning right was a minefield of terror. Every time a bus pushed me up to the curb I was convinced that I was about to be crushed.

I still wouldn’t say I like it. I find cycling kind of a drag, to be honest. If it’s raining or you have to carry a lot of things or get somewhere further than five miles away, it’s a hassle. But I’m certainly far more competent and confident than the girl that simply keeled over sideways onto the pavement the first time she tried to cycle on a road.

Now, five years later, I am staring into the face of a cycle commute in London, which is starting at the end of this month. If anyone has any tips for doing this with minimal pain and sacrifice, please do pass them on, because I am mildly terrified.


Dates are one of those things that I never quite ‘got’ for ages. I know that lots of recipes that are raw and sugar free and all natural and so on use dates as a sweetener or a binding agent or something, and say that if you blend them enough they taste just like caramel. You have probably seen by now that this is not at all that sort of blog. However, I am all for using dates in and of themselves.

Notes: As an experiment, to make the cores of these cupcakes I actually froze Nutella in silicone ice cube trays and inserted a frozen lump of chocolatey joy into the centre of each cupcake before baking. However, I don’t think it made a great deal of difference, and it’s a bit of a (delicious) hassle, so in the method here I am recommending you simply core the cupcakes as usual.


for the cakes

2 eggs
180g caster sugar
100ml coconut oil (or whatever oil you like)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large or three medium ripe bananas, mashed
185g plain flour
1 tsp bircarbonate of soda
10 dates (roughly), pitted and chopped into chunks
100g Nutella

for the nutella frosting

50g butter
100g Nutella
100g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder

optional: additional toppings to sprinkle over the cupcakes. These are very soft cakes, so I think something with a bit of crunch works well. I have used chocolate covered little crunchy biscuit pieces, but chopped nuts would also be good.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4, and a line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases. Pop the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the oil and the vanilla extract to the eggs and sugar, and beat until just combined. Mix in the mashed bananas.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together over the top of the wet mixture, and fold it in. Beat the mixture briefly on a low speed to ensure it’s smooth, and finally fold in the dates. Divide between the paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cakes are well-risen and pass the skewer test.
  3. When the cupcakes are completely cold, core them. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it, and then spoon it into the cupcakes with a teaspoon
  4. Make the buttercream. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric whisk until smooth and soft, and then beat in the Nutella. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder over the top, and roughly fold it in before beating until smooth. Spoon or pipe the frosting over the cupcakes.