IT is an indulgent treat beloved by chocoholics the world over, with its distinctive nutty flavour even sparking near riots among shoppers desperate to savour it for a discount price.
Now, the craze for Nutella is inspiring the Scottish food and drink scene, with the chocolate and hazelnut spread being used in a host of unorthodox creations.
The allure of the delicacy was laid bare by extraordinary scenes in the outlets of French supermarket chain Intermarche, where brawls broke out among customers after pots of the spread were heavily discounted.
For loyal Scottish Nutella consumers, the frenzied demand did not come entirely as a surprise. Claire Jessiman, the food writer behind the popular Foodie Quine blog, which features reviews as well as quirky recipe ideas, counts her daughter, Iona, as one of growing number of Nutella addicts.
The 13-year-old has been an avowed fan of the spread since she was a toddler. She owns Nutella-branded clothing and has even purchased personalised jars of the foodstuff with her name on the label.
“I’m glad my daughter didn’t know about the flash sale in France, otherwise she’d have been crossing the Channel,” Ms Jessiman said.
While she does not share her daughter’s love of the spread, Ms Jessiman regards it as a “very versatile” cooking ingredient, having made the likes of Nutella-filled pancakes, and Nutella and Cadbury Creme Egg cakes.
But it is not just bakers who attest to Nutella’s qualities. Even the humble Scottish chippy is getting in on the act.
One of the most popular items on the menu of Townhead Fish Bar and Pizzeria in Biggar, South Lanarkshire, is its Nutella pizza.
The snack – sprinkled with icing sugar for an added kick – was given the green light by proprietor, Marc Muir, after he worked with an Italian chef who came up with the idea.
“It’s been very popular, people love it,” Mr Muir said. “I think at first, they’re put off by the idea of having sweet spread in a pizza, but they try it and realise it’s different to what they’re expecting.
“We mostly sell it as a dessert, although we also get schoolkids who come in at lunchtime – the Nutella pizza is pretty popular then.”
It is not the only eatery in Scotland using Nutella in unusual ways. Street food specialists Dennistoun Bar B Que sell racks of ribs smeared in the spread, while the Glasgow city centre cocktail bar Blue Dog incorporates it in one of its drinks. Such uses, say food writers, are testament to the unique appeal of Nutella, which was created in 1944 by Italian confectioner Pietro Ferrero, and now sells enough jars each year to line the banks of the Danube 26 times over.
Amy Lorimer, who runs the Baking With Granny food blog, said: “I think the hazelnut taste and the fact it comes in spread form has a real draw, and from the way it has been advertised over the years, it’s perceived by some people as being relatively healthy, so there’s less guilt about eating it compared to chocolate.
Ms Jessiman, who is well-accustomed to the ritual of scraping a thick wad of Nutella on toast for her daughter most mornings, has her own theory: “It’s the only acceptable way to eat chocolate at breakfast. I think that’s part of the appeal.”
COMMENT: IONA’S VIEW
I’ll usually have Nutella on toast for breakfast about three or four times a week, but the trick is how much you put on. Some people like to have a thin scraping, but that’s not for me. It’s got to be a lot. You don’t get the full flavour otherwise.
I suppose what’s strange is that I really love Nutella but I hate nuts. I like sweet things and chocolate, although I’m not keen on other chocolate spreads because they don’t have that strong nutty flavour Nutella has. It’s something about the combination of the two and the intensity of the flavour that really makes it work.
As well as toast, I like to spread it on top of a bit of banana, which is just amazing. I also really like it on waffles and, if I’m abroad, a Nutella crepe is even better. It’s very popular in Italy. It’s used for all kinds of dishes nowadays. I remember the first time I ever had a Nutella pizza, and to be honest, I thought it was really strange.
I’m such a fan that I got a Nutella jumper for Christmas. When I wear it, you get people telling you how much they like it too. One time I was at a street food stall having a Nutella calzone while I was wearing it and the stall owner asked to pose with me for a photograph. There are fans of it everywhere.
I don’t know if the makers will ever reduce the sugar or introduce a new lighter variety of Nutella, but for me, I’ll never give it up, I just love it.
When you have it for breakfast, it gives you a boost for the day ahead – although you do have to check your face in the mirror before you go to school.