Having spent the largest part of my professional food career removing lousy ingredients from thousands of packaged foods (hydrogenated oil, preservatives, chemicals, etc.), I must applaud Shawn Askinosie for doing the same thing so tastefully. And so taste-ily. And always with chocolate.
Shawn, as regular readers of this site will recall, is the Springfield, MO, chocolate maker who makes the best chocolate in America. If you’ve forgotten, check out:
Now Shawn has outdone himself, having invented a tasty, cleaner alternative to Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut spread, which so many of us ate as kids.
Shawn’s latest invention is Askinosie Hey, Hey Hazelnut, a chocolate-hazelnut spread that is, at once:
+ The first commercial chocolate-hazelnut spread made in America
+ By default, the BEST tasting chocolate-hazelnut spread made in America, or anywhere else, for that matter
+ The ONLY commercial chocolate-hazelnut spread made without hydrogenated oils, without modified palm oil, without milk, without vanilla or vanillin.
The ingredients of Askinosie Hey, Hey, Hazelnut are, quite simply:
Hazelnuts (including their byproducts of hazelnut oil and hazelnut butter), cocoa powder, organic sugar and roasted cocoa nibs. That’s it.
For years, I have worshipped at the shrine of Holmquist, a Washington state hazelnut producer, which I have long thought supplies the tastiest hazelnuts in America. Shawn came to the same conclusion on his own and exclusively uses Holmquists’ fresh-crop hazelnuts to make his spread.
FYI: Shawn only uses the DuChilly variety hazelnuts, which he grinds into a paste and to which he adds chocolate powder and roasted chocolate nibs, which come from his single-origin cacao grower in Davao Philippines. The ingredients are slowly ground and mixed together for days, producing an ultra-rich, ultra-delicious paste.
On top of everything else that is wonderful about this spread, it is the ONLY chocolate-hazelnut spread in the world that is made from single-origin chocolate.
In short: This hazelnut spread virtually has a pedigree. So take that in the nuts, Nutella!
On top of all the built-in improvements over the world’s leading commercial hazelnut spread, Nutella, Askinosie’s version tastes better, fresher, more exciting, more homemade. It would have to – it’s hand-crafted in small batches. It’s the same reason why small-batch, kettle potato chips, or small-batch, hand-made pasta, tastes better than respective products made in large commercial factories. It’s difficult to scale great taste.
My tasting notes for Askinosie Hey, Hey Hazelnut Spread:
A remarkably lubricious, totally addictive, can’t-stop-spooning spread that makes you want to find a nearby church where you can genuflect – to pay homage to some kind of Greater Being for having given Shawn Askinosie the smarts to ever invent such a delicious product.
This is hazelnut spread on steroids, the Ultimate Spreading Experience, to corrupt a phrase popularized by BMW.
There is an addictive interplay here of toasted chocolate and roasted hazelnut, whose flavors vie for your attention; be careful – it is easy to wipe out an entire 6.5-ounce jar in one sitting!
If I scored hazelnut spreads as wines are popularly scored on a 100-point scale, this is a 100-point spread. Everything else pales in comparison; this is the new benchmark by which all other hazelnut spreads will be judged.
Askinosie Hey, Hey, Hazelnut Spread is great on toast, or smear on bananas, or use as a filling for pastries or cakes. A 6.5-oz jar costs $13, available on line from the Askinosie web site.
I called to congratulate Shawn on his latest achievement but learned that he is in Tanzania with a group of 13 high school students. “They are meeting local farmers who will supply cocoa from our next new single-origin region,” a company spokesperson told me.
One more thing: Shawn and the students will spend their free time this week drilling a water well for the village – to supply clean water for 2,000 people.
If you wish to support this endeavor, you may make a tax-deductible contribution to the water project at
Enter “Cocoa Honors“ in the “Fund” line.
To learn more about Shawn’s African project, go to www.chocolateuniversity.org
To order Askinosie Hey, Hey Hazelnut Spread, go to www.askinosie.com