I was 9 years old when I first had chocolate for breakfast, breaking into a jar of Nutella one morning and spreading the sweet, rich, velvety contents on a slice of bread usually reserved for strawberry jam.
It’s been a love affair ever since.
I live for dessert, so Nutella - a hazelnut and cocoa spread that's been around since 1963 - is my favorite indulgence and vice. Few days go by when I don’t dip a spoon into the smooth mixture that melts on warm toast and coats the roof of my mouth with chocolaty happiness whenever I take a bite.
There’s a price to pay, of course – all that deliciousness comes with 100 calories and more than 5 grams of fat per tablespoon. But the company that makes Nutella insists the breakfast spread can form a part of a balanced meal "when used in moderation with complementary foods."
Moderation? Forget about it.
I’m passionate about the stuff and I seem to have lots of company.
Plug "Nutella" into a search engine and you’ll find tributes, fan pages and lots of recipes infusing the spread into all sorts of culinary creations. Note this recipe for Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta, which calls for one full cup of Nutella.
There’s even a World Nutella Day - in February, alas - a website for which lists the Top 10 Signs You’re Addicted to Nutella. I nod vigorously when I get to No. 4: "You’ve never met any food item that didn’t pair well with Nutella."
It’s perfect with most any kind of bread, salty pretzels and spoons of peanut butter. I put it on sliced bananas, use it as a gooey dip for fresh, ripe strawberries and eat it with Macadamia nuts.
I reach for Nutella instead of syrup when I need a chocolaty kick for a bowl of ice cream. It's luscious oozing out of warm crepes or topped with whipped cream. Tea biscuits layered alternately with Nutella and tart plum jam make a satisfying dessert.
Then there's the ultimate breakfast indulgence: a flaky croissant, generously buttered for that extra silky touch, and drizzled with Nutella.
The world just seems sweeter when coated in hazelnut chocolate.