One of the unsung heroes of the Marlborough region is our nut industry, which produces walnuts, almonds and, specifically, hazelnuts.
While the industry does not have the glamour and mystique of seafood or viticulture, it is often the quiet achiever.
Known in other countries as the cobnut or filbert nut, the most common hazelnut in Marlborough and New Zealand is the Whiteheart, which produces a large, sweet nut – a good all-rounder for blanching and turning into other hazelnut products such as cold-pressed hazelnut oil, hazelnut paste, hazelnut dukkah or butter.
The hazelnut (Corylus avellana) is grown in most temperate areas of the world, but Turkey produces 75 per cent of the world's nuts and exports around the world.
New Zealand imports about 200 tons of hazelnuts each year, so there is a need for everybody to support our local growers and producers to ensure that they have a place in the future – even if it means having to read the label on the back of the package to find out where the nuts came from.
More than 9000 years ago, hazelnuts were being produced in Scotland and eaten by the local population, but I am sure they would never have thought that on a small island on the far side of the world, there would be a growing and vibrant industry of producers who produce some of the best hazelnuts in the world.
EXTREME HAZELNUT BROWNIE
(Recipe from The Nutt Ranch, Waihopai Valley)
250g dark chocolate
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
3 eggs (free range)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped, toasted Nutt Ranch hazelnuts
1/2 cup cocoa
Line the bottom of a 27cmx18cm baking pan with oven paper.
Melt the chocolate and butter slowly, then cool.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until thick. Add flour, cocoa, and chopped hazelnuts. Spread in the pan and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30-35 minutes.
Serve warm or cold. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
This desert is extra tasty served warm with whipped cream or icecream and raspberry couli.