Friday, March 4, 2011

CocoHaze! vs. Nutella

I was lurking in the cheese department at Whole Foods the other day, trying and failing to justify paying $6 for a tiny wedge of Fromager d'Affinois (soft and creamy like Brie, but a bit tangier). That's a sale price at Whole Foods, but Harry's Cheese, at the Haymarket, often has fat wedges for $3, or two for $5.

Hmm, I am overdue for a shopping trip to the North End, and I owe the bartender at Regina's $2, too.

Anyway.... next to the cheese at Whole Foods was a prominent display of glass bottles of something called CocoaHaze! It looks just like Nutella, so I was instantly alert.

I love Nutella, as all rational human beings do. My current dessert craving is Bertucci's Chocolate Hazelnut Crostata ($4.99), which consists of a satisfyingly large dollop of Nutella filling inside a rustic tart crust, served hot from their wood oven:

Crostatas. (Or crostati?) as shown on Bertucci's menu.
They make a fruit version, too. Don't ask me why.

But I try to be broadminded about food — or chocolate, at least — so I feel obligated to explore other varieties of chocolate-hazelnut spread. I'm still mourning the demise of Trader Joe's Cocoa Hazelnut Spread a few years ago. It had a richer, dark-chocolate taste than Nutella. Somehow, even though it had more fat, as I recall, it seemed more wholesome that Nutella. So one could slather it on top of toast and peanut butter with greater abandon.

I asked the guy behind the cheese counter if he'd tried CocoaHaze! (the exclamation point is part of the name; I'm trying to be tolerant about it).  I couldn't hear what he said, so I stood there feeling stupid for a little while, wondering if he'd say anything else. Instead, he handed me a sample on a piece of bread.

VoilĂ ! Strongly reminiscent of Trader Joe's Cocoa Hazelnut Spread. I said so to the guy, and he nodded knowingly. And it's from Belgium, just like TJ's spread. My jar of Nutella comes from Canada, although I am going to see if there are any glass jars from Europe in the North End today.

CocoaHaze! comes in a glass jar, as did TJ's spread (their jar was octagonal and pretty; I kept one as a relic). Nutella generally comes in plastic. I prefer glass to plastic because it seems to me that Nutella gets hard and weird over time, especially in a plastic jar. Oils and plastic can react to each other. While this should inspire me to finish a jar of Nutella within a couple of days of opening it, there are simply too many other kinds of chocolate in the world to make that feasible. Most of the time.

The ingredients of CocoaHaze! and Nutella are roughly similar, beginning with sugar and including things like soy lecithin. Neither is anything you should be proud of eating. But who cares?

CocoaHaze! is Fair Trade, and more expensive. It has less saturated fat but more total fat per serving. Taste-wise, it's less sugary-sweet and more chocolatey than Nutella, which I approve. The hazelnut aspect is secondary to me; both spreads have enough hazelnut taste without distracting me from the point, which is chocolate.

In professional copywriter's parlance, CocoaHaze! is less goopy than Nutella, a little drier and less drippy-spreadable. I'm tempted to say it's more "adult" or "refined" but that's pushing it. It's still essentially kid stuff, and thank goodness.

I'm willing to bet that, like the TJs spread, the consistency of CocoaHaze! will stay consistent as we slowly use up the jar, without hardening as Nutella does.

I left the cheese department very pleased, with chocolate on my face and a $5.99 jar of CocoaHaze! in my basket. But this will not stop me from getting a glass jar of Nutella if I can find on in the North End. I want to make one of those crostatas myself, and I think it needs to be goopy.


  1. MMMM! Enjoy!

    Since I brought unfortunate tidings last time, I'll bring some unexpected good news this time. The low fat/no fat hypothesis has been thoroughly disproven. This Civil Eats post is a very nice synopsis of the state of food science and its translational iteration - eating -explains.

    But in a nutshell, farmers know this instinctively - fatten animals with grains and industrial seed oils. It's the refined carbs and too much of them that overloads our systems and causes the cascade of metabolic derangements.

    Eating fats and limiting carbs to fruit and vegetables will cause weight normalization. (I'm an example of it and was also a huge skeptic).

    Enjoy your chocolate and fat without worry!



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