After some deliberation over what I should bring to my cousin’s for Mother’s Day, I ended up deciding to make the Chocolate Hazelnut Banana pie. It was the picture that sold me. This recipe was a lot of fun to make, and it was definitely a learning experience. But when I said: “I am leaning towards some type of Jello pudding pie, because they seem pretty easy – and cheap – to make,” – well, I could not have been more wrong!
I’m sure things would have gone MUCH smoother if I hadn’t decided to try to make it sugar free. The first problem I encountered was that the original recipe calls for half a cup of chocolate hazelnut spread, a.k.a. Nutella. Before I could even think about the rest of the recipe, I had to figure out what to do about that. So I spent a few hours – yes, hours – looking up sugar-free, homemade Nutella recipes, and finally settled on a vegan Nutella recipe I found at Pickles & Honey.
The next problem was the pie crust. I know it’s possible to make your own sugar-free pie crust, but I have never done it before, and I really didn’t think this was the time to start, considering how much I was taking on making the vegan Nutella. I didn’t want to go TOO crazy. So I decided that I was just going to buy a ready-made pie crust. Hence the designation of this recipe as “ALMOST” sugar free.
With those two issues decided, I made up my shopping list, and on my way home from golf I stopped at the supermarket. I only needed a few key items – Cool whip, pie crust, bananas, and hazelnuts. Easy peasy, right? WRONG. I have never in my life bought a real hazelnut, and I had no idea where they would be. But even after the store manager had directed me to the correct aisle, I STILL had no idea what I was looking for! Nothing was labeled. I saw signs for peanuts, mixed nuts, almonds, pecans, filberts, etc. – everything but hazelnuts. I pulled out my phone and googled “hazelnut,” and this is what I saw:
I compared the picture to what was in front of me and decided that “filberts” must be another name for hazelnuts, because they looked identical. At almost $4 a pound, they weren’t cheap – and the smallest package they had was nearly two pounds. I had no clue whether that would be enough for the Nutella, but that was all I was willing to invest, so I grabbed it. At the checkout the store manager did confirm that filberts and hazelnuts are the same thing. Good to know, right?
But now I realized I had ANOTHER problem. The nuts were still in their shells. I needed a nutcracker! Fortunately my mom had one (even more fortunate, she lives just next door). So I borrowed hers. By this time it was after 9 pm. I swear, I spent the next hour and a half cracking nuts! I did it while watching tv, so at times I may have been slightly distracted, but even still, it took a long time and was a lot of work. And today I’m still finding cracked shells in my carpet. (Sidenote – It IS possible to buy shelled hazelnuts. I saw them today at my usual supermarket and wanted to kick myself for not going there first! Oh well, next time.)
Oh, but I’m not done yet. After I finished cracking the nuts I had to roast them – 8 minutes at 375 degrees. Then once they were cool I had to peel the skin off.
WHAT A PAIN IN THE ASS.
It was like 11:30 by the time I finally reached the point where I could actually start making the Nutella. But I was tired, so I went to bed.
To be continued! — Read Part Two