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Chocolate-Hazelnut Pancakes at the Roadhouse

Italian Noccioliva takes brunch to new levels

By Ari Weinzweig

A super tasty chocolate hazelnut spread has made it’s way into a fabulous new brunch special at the Roadhouse! Noccioliva is made by the small artisan firm of Il Colle del Gusto (“Hills of Flavor”) in the tiny town of Fara di Sabina, in Lazio—smack in the center of Italy. We get it thanks to the wonderful work of Rolando Beramendi, the man behind Manicaretti Imports, author of the highly recommended cookbook Autentico, and the amazing importer from whom we get the Rustichella pasta, IASA pepperoncino, and much more. 

What is noccioliva?

Noccioliva is the creation of Antonio della Corte, a master gelato maker, and Anna Maria, a farmer and bed and breakfast owner. Together, the two chose to use high-quality extra virgin olive oil as the emulsifier for their spreads. Rolando says, “It gives the spread a great texture and leaves your palate clean and you don’t get any of the waxy unpleasant mouthfeel that you will with lower-end offerings.” Noccioliva is, impressively, not all that sweet at all but it is remarkably tasty! It is made from a very high percentage (38%) of Italian hazelnuts (some of the best in the world), dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, and a small bit of sugar. It has just that right balance—nutty, savory, sweet, and super-rich but still light.

How we are using noccioliva at the Roadhouse

The latest way we’re using the Noccioliva is in these super-tasty Chocolate-Hazelnut pancakes that are on the brunch menu at the Roadhouse this month. They’re the work of sous chef Jess Forbes. Here’s what Jess had to say:

We have a new brunch item at the Roadhouse, and boy am I excited about it! It’s a Chocolate-Hazelnut Pancake, served with delicious Noccioliva on top, along with some toasted hazelnuts, and it is tasty! If you’re like me, you grew up with Nutella, and that was your introduction to the divine combination of hazelnuts and chocolate. I thought it was pretty good, but I didn’t know how much better it could actually be! I remember when you introduced me to the Noccioliva. I said “Oh, it’s like Nutella?” With a wry grin, you replied “Yeah, only it’s a hundred times better!” You were right! When I took my first taste of the Noccioliva, it was like a chorus of angels had descended from upon high. It’s that good! I knew I had to use this in a recipe.

A lot of my inspiration comes from my family and those around me. After trying it loads of different ways, the family decided that pancakes were the fan favorite. But not just any pancakes, but chocolate pancakes! With Askinosie cocoa powder and real vanilla mixed into the batter, with coffee from Zingerman’s coffee, along with plenty of the Noccioliva spread, it’s hard not to go wrong with this dish!

Kudos to Jess for her creative cookery skills. The pancakes are darned delicious. Not super sweet but very tasty, complex, and culinarily compelling. A great way to practice the Four Steps to Tasting Great Food as you enjoy a weekend morning! The aromas, the colors, and the flavors all are amazing.