Magnificent Obsession: Blueberries, Hazelnuts and Chocolate

It’s blueberry season in Oregon again.  Since there is an organic blueberry farm just down the road from my house, one afternoon recently I dropped everything and made a dash for the blueberry patch. 

As thunder clouds rumbled in the distance, I donned the harness that holds the bucket in place and headed to a promising row nearby.  I sampled a few as I checked the bushes for quality and quantity.  Yes indeed, it was another good year:  they were succulent and sweet. 

 

I’ve learned that under the long leafy branches plump clumps of berries are frequently overlooked by other pickers.  I held the branches over my bucket and went to town, filling my hands while allowing the bucket to catch the fat juicy ones that inadvertently fell as I picked.  Within about 1 ½ hours I had collected four pounds of berries and was on my way home when the storm hit. 
Back at the house, I sorted through my haul removing random leaves, attached stems, unripe or bruised berries; then carefully rinsed them.  I set aside a large bowlful for immediate snacking, cooking and sharing, laid the rest out onto baking sheets, and popped them into the freezer for later bagging and storage.   
I had bigger plans on my agenda and already knew what I wanted next.  One of the reasons for the frantic run to the berry farm was to satisfy my re-occurring blueberry smoothie dreams.  This was not any smoothie, mind you; this one was going to be a humdinger.  Blueberries and hazelnuts are big crops here in Oregon and I have long recognized their affinity and have especially enjoyed them together in salads. 
On this day, it was all about that jar of Nutella sitting in my pantry, and the magical combination of hazelnuts and chocolate.  All forms of berries partner up beautifully with chocolate.  Why not blueberries, hazelnuts and chocolate ― in a smoothie?  I may be delusional, but I considered this a smoothie of potentially magnificent proportions.
As I pull out blender ingredients I recall my whirlwind frozen yogurt episodes utilizing instant pudding mix.  I’m passing on the yogurt ― too jolting with the berries.  I reach for low fat milk instead, and add only a dash of the pudding mixture to ensure a thick creaminess. I grab the vanilla to enhance the flavors and pull out ice cubes to increase the chill factor. 
I’ve now tried several renditions and prefer to back off on the Nutella (really?) just a tad to allow the glorious blueberries to shine through.  There is a delicate balance between the luscious chocolate-hazelnut blend and the gentle berry flavors. Surprisingly, 2 tablespoons of Nutella seems too much, and 1 tablespoon is not quite enough.  You be the judge. 
This makes two filling servings, but I assure you, it’s easy to polish it all off by yourself ― once you get started.

Blueberry Obsession: Blueberry, Hazelnut and Chocolate Smoothie
Ingredients
·         1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
·         1 Tbsp. white chocolate instant pudding mix
·         1 ½ Tbsp. Nutella (1 heaping tablespoon)
·         1 cup low fat milk
·         ½ tsp. vanilla
·         1 cup crushed ice
Directions 
Place all ingredients in blender container and blend for two minutes.  Pour into tall glasses and serve with straws. Serves 2.

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