Gianduja (pronounced ‘jan-duya’ - and yes, it’s difficult for English speakers to pronounce) is one of my favourite treats, and it has a fascinating history. This unique style of hazelnut chocolate was invented in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic era. Napoleon imposed the Continental System, which prevented British ships from entering any European ports under French control, and resulted in a major shortage of cocoa beans.
Michele Rochet - an ingenious chocolatier in Turin, Northern Italy - had an idea to stretch out his remaining chocolate by blending it with hazelnuts from the nearby Langhe hills. His recipe contained 30% hazelnut paste, resulting in chocolate that was much softer than normal (due to the large amount of oil in hazelnuts) and incredibly smooth. This was the start of a huge industry in Italy, and a unique style of chocolate that took the world by storm.
Ferrero Rocher and Nutella are both inspired by gianduja, but they are much cheaper and sweeter versions of the real thing. When done properly, gianduja is a perfect harmony of top quality cacao and hazelnuts, with a texture that never fails to make people swoon. Whenever I host chocolate tastings, gianduja is most people’s favourite chocolate.
These days, Guido Gobino in Turin is considered the Italian gianduja-master, but craft chocolate makers around the world are also making some exceptional bars that challenge the traditional methods. When New Zealand’s Hogarth Chocolate won gold at both the Academy of Chocolate Awards and International Chocolate Awards in 2017 for their Gianduia (alt-spelling), it’s fair to say some Italian feathers were ruffled!
I don’t know who makes the best in the world, but I can tell you that I’ve never met a gianduja I didn’t like. It’s an irresistible creation that I can eat endless amounts of - I would honestly take a bath in the stuff if I could!
If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of gianduja, make sure you try the bars we stock. I’ve taste tested each one, and they’re all Yum!
- Italian-made Autore Gianduia
- Italian-made from Manjani Gianduia, with whole roasted hazelnuts
- Italian-made from boutique brand Amedei
- Locally-made Espresso Hazelnut Crunch by Cuvée Chocolate - a limited edition bar that combines gianduja with coffee!