Do you know anyone who doesn’t like Nutella? I have been racking my brain for a few days now and I cannot think of anyone. So if you love or just really like someone, show it to them by baking them those mini Nutella pie pops this Valentine’s Day. They’re home-made, gluten-free, they’re cute and yummy – better than any Hallmark card you can buy for your crush(es). And if you feel adventurous and don’t mind a few possible Nutella stains on your kitchen walls, involve the little ones too – then they can brag at nursery or school that they made it themselves!
What you will need:
- A batch of pie pastry (you can use ready bought pastry if you like but I wanted these to be gluten-free so I adapted a recipe and made my own pastry – recipe below)
- Half a small jar of Nutella
- 50g of roasted (and peeled) hazelnuts (optional)
- A free-range egg and some sugar to sprinkle on top
- Cake pop sticks (made of compressed paper or wood – plastic ones might melt in the oven)
- A heart cookie cutter
- A rolling pin
- A pastry brush
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or about 180 degrees if you use a fan assisted oven). Then make the filling: I like the combination of crunchy and soft so I roasted and bashed some hazelnuts to mix with the Nutella.
Feel free to skip those though – Nutella is great on its own too. Or use jam if you prefer, but you know – chocolate hazelnut spread will win over jam most times. Roll pastry to about 2mm thickness on a slightly floured surface and cut an even amount of hearts. I then put mine in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes first so it can firm up a little. Place a dollop of the Nutella hazelnut mixture in the middle of each heart. Whisk the egg with a splash of water and using your finger, brush the edges of the heart with the egg mixture to act as glue. Place the cake pop stick starting around the middle of the heart (not to worry if it’s inside the filling). Then place the second heart on top and using a fork, lightly press the edges to make sure the filling won’t spill out while baking. You can even use a smaller heart cutter to place small hearts of pastry over the pop – I did it with one but then realised I prefer the plain hearts. Brush the top with the egg mixture and sprinkle some sugar (or even sprinkles) on top.
Bake for around 15-18 minutes, until starting to look golden brown, depending on your own oven. Then try to leave them to cool before you dig into one yourself. If after the taste test you still have some left, put them away somewhere so you actually have some to give out on Valentine’s Day! If not, just repeat the above… These would also be great without the cake pop stick (just as mini pies) to fill a cookie jar for a present.
Home-made gluten-free pastry (slightly adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe)
Makes around 15 pie pops
What you will need:
- 250 g gluten-free plain flour
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum*
- 50 g soft light brown sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 125 g unsalted cold butter
- 1 large free-range egg
Sieve the flour and xanthan gum into a large bowl (the shallower, the better), then stir in the sugar and salt. Cut the butter into cubes, then use your hands or a pastry blender to rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, then add it to the mixture. Use your hands to bring it together into a rough dough, but don’t knead it too much. If for some reason the dough is too crumbly, you can add some milk on order to bring it all together but mine came out fine with just the egg, in fact it was still a little sticky which is totally fine since you will be using a little flour later when rolling it out to prevent it from sticking to your worktop and rolling pin. Form the dough into a flat round, roughly 2.5cm thick, wrap in cling film and let sit fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour before rolling it out.
*If you haven’t baked gluten-free before, you may wonder what xanthan gum is – I did too the first time! It basically acts as the bonding agent for the pastry, a role otherwise performed by the gluten in regular flour. You can find it in the ‘Free from’ section of Morrisons or in various health stores around Gibraltar.