Homemade raw hazelnut milk is a culinary gift from the gods! I don’t tend to "milk" hazelnuts as much as other raw nuts and seeds, as my mind always wants to pair them with chocolate for decadent treats like pralines, chocolates tortes, home made ice creams, hazelnut butter, chocolate spread (Nutella) and chocolate pancakes!
However, plain slightly sweetened hazelnut milk makes a delicious treat on it's own. It is a wonderful chilled drink, or can be mixed with some raw cacao for a chocolate hazelnut milk that is DIVINE! As with the homemade almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia milk, Brazil nut milk, coconut milk, and rice milk recipes I have posted, this raw hazelnut milk is as easy as SOAK, BLEND, and DEVOUR, and makes a fabulous base for smoothies, ice creams, and desserts.
When selecting raw hazelnuts, you can purchase them shelled and unshelled. Shelled hazelnuts have a smooth, brown glossy shell that should have no cracks or holes. To check if they are fresh, pick them up and shake them. If the nut rattles inside they have lost their moisture and spoiled. Shelled hazelnuts should be plump. Any shrivelled hazelnuts have passed their prime. Always purchase hazelnuts from a health food store with a high turnover, and store in the fridge or freezer. They really should be used within a month. I only purchase hazelnuts as I need them.
Hazelnuts do have a high fat content are quite decadent. I don't consume them every week. But, this raw hazelnut milk does make a lovely treat, and offers some nutritional diversity. Hazelnuts are rich in protein, dietary fibre, magnesium and B Vitamins; and have the highest antioxidant content of any nuts; and the lowest percentage of saturated fats (as well as almonds and pinenuts) of any nuts. Hazelnuts also contain significant amounts of calcium, iron and zinc; and are a good source of oleic acid and other heart-healthy fats. They are also one of the richest sources of Vitamin E; and are known to help combat heart disease and cancer. Yes, keep telling yourself that as you add the chocolate! LOL!
I find that I sweeten hazelnut milk a little more than most other milks. I have put quantities of sweetener as a guide only. Sweeten to taste. I find that when I am making chocolate hazelnut milk, I require about 1/4 cup of sweetener or quite a few pitted dates to get a nice balance. Seeing as I only make this hazelnut occasionally, I just go for it. Everything in balance, and you have to enjoy your food!
If you are on a sugar-free diet, the Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme or English Toffee Liquid Stevia works really well in this milk. Either way, this milk is a stunner, a winner, and not to be missed. I use this hazelnut milk as the base for my Chocolate Hazelnut "Nutella" Shake that I will share tomorrow for Valentine's Day. Oh My...show me the way to chocoholic heaven! Enjoy :)