My unpopular opinion: Nutella is not that good. In theory, it sounds both delicious and cosmopolitan, a decadent, nutty chocolate spread beloved by fancy Europeans. But I’ve never thought that it tastes much like chocolate or hazelnuts at all, since both flavours are drowned out by an overwhelming hit of sugar (when I want overly processed mass market chocolate, I steal from my kid’s candy stash, thank you very much). So I honestly didn’t get the chocolate nut spread hype—until I found Mumgry, a line of nut butters made in Vancouver.
Grocery shopping is the only way to satisfy the consumerist itch to browse these days and on one of my outings, I noticed the bright red logo on a jar of Mumgry chocolate peanut butter. I added it to my pile of comfort foods, took it home, and immediately tried a spoonful. It offered what I’ve wanted from a Reese peanut butter cup—intense peanut butter and chocolate flavours that are allowed to shine, rather than being drowned out by sugar and palm oil.
What a horizon Mumgry opened up for me: It turns out that a whole bunch of Canadian companies are making unique nut and chocolate spreads that actually taste like those ingredients. Here’s a list, with an ethical American option thrown in. Plus, a recipe for a spread you can easily make at home.
The Roastiest: Mumgry Chocolate Peanut Butter
Dry-roasting matters. In this case, it helps the familiar peanut taste brand new again, complex and hearty and special. This thick, crunchy spread—made with just nuts, dark chocolate and sea salt—is an indulgent treat; the Vancouver company also makes a chocolate pistachio almond version if you need even more luxury. $10/375g.
The Sampler Pack: Allo Simone Hazelnut Chocolate Spreads
If variety is your thing, try the gift set from this Quebec company, which doesn’t use palm oil at all. Along with creamy milk and decadent dark versions, it offers hazelnut chocolate spreads spiked with maple syrup, buckwheat and coffee, as well as a dairy-free version made with milky Jaguar chocolate from Mexico. $40/six 100g jars.
The One For People Who Like Their Sweets Salty: Logan Petit Lot Chocolate Peanut Butter
Made in small batches in Quebec, this gorgeous spread offers hits of crunchy sea salt and maple sugar crystals, along with deep, dark chocolate, a touch of vanilla and dry-roasted peanuts. True nut butter fiends can check out the cashew and pecan offerings, too. $10/250g.
The Most Unusual: Manba Spicy Chocolate Peanut Butter
If you like Mexican mole, check out this spread from a Haitian Montrealer (apparently chocolate nut butters are big in Quebec). The Caribbean country has long spiked its peanut butters with scotch bonnet peppers, and this creamy dark chocolate spread has a nice, bright zing at the end. The non-chocolate spicy peanut butter would be great on soba noodles. $10/500g.
The Nutella-est: Nutiva Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
You have a sweet tooth, and that’s okay. The sweetest of the bunch I tried, this is still much more chocolatey than you-know-what, and as rich as ganache. Nutiva is also a member of Palm Done Right—a collective of companies that appreciate palm oil’s ability to make products creamy, but source it with fair wages and environmental preservation in mind. Available in original and dark, $10/369 g.
The One You Can Make At Home: Joe Yonan’s Chocolate Chickpea Spread Recipe
So here’s another unpopular opinion—though the name might be annoying, chocolate hummus is very good. It’s also a handy way to get fibre into kids (I’ve occasionally taken a few tablespoons of maple syrup out of this recipe and mine has been none the wiser). Here’s a version from Cool Beans, Joe Yonan’s 2020 cookbook that contains everything you need to know about pulses.
Makes 3 cups
- 3 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added chickpeas (from one 29-ounce can or
two 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Combine the chickpeas, 2/3 cup water, maple syrup, cocoa, vanilla, salt, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. (If you have a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix, it will get smoother, but this comes together fine in a regular blender or a food processor; it will be a little grainier but tastes great.) Taste and add more salt if needed.
For the most spreadable results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the mixture will stiffen. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Excerpted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2020. Photos by Aubrie Pick, food styling by Lillian Kang, courtesy Ten Speed Press.