Piedmont’s gold: Why this Italian chocolate rules

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(CNN) – There’s chocolate, and then there’s gianduiotto chocolate. Nutella’s ancestor, the molten treat in the mouth is as rare as it is delicious.

Like the most famous Italian artisan chocolate, Giandueotto originated in Piedmont, Italy, where he is considered the “King of Italian Chocolate”.

Made from a rich paste of fine cocoa mixed with premium hazelnuts growing in the Lange region of Piedmont, it is very popular with locals.

Some take it with espresso for breakfast and / or after meals, with snacks and aperitifs.

Ingot-shaped treats, usually wrapped in thin silver, gold or colored aluminum foil, have been produced here for centuries by local chocolaters.

Its birthplace is the region’s capital, Turin, known as the “Chocolate Capital” of Italy. .

Iconic chocolate

Gianduyotto chocolate is made from cocoa paste mixed with premium hazelnuts.

Gianduyotto chocolate is made from cocoa paste mixed with premium hazelnuts.

A. Giordano Torino

The name Gianduioto is believed to have come from the carnival figure Gianduja, a popular wine-loving farmer in the 1800s, who embodied the Epicurean nature of the locals.

Gianduotto, originally known as Givu (or Stubbs,), became popular when the general public apparently got his first real taste, as he was treated by a Gianduja-clad actor in 1865 during a carnival celebration in Turin.

According to respected artisan chocolate chocolate Guido Castagna, Gianduiotto is more than just a prestigious chocolate. It is a symbol of Turin and a big part of the city’s identity.

“Poor Gianduyotto, he was born a second-class surrogate for Coco,” Castagna told CNN.

“It had a humble origin but then it became an elite, specialty product of high quality, the first to be rolled up. [in foil] In the history of chocolate. ”

Gianduiotto was born out of necessity – to alleviate the shortage of cocoa in Europe.

When Napoleon Bonaparte conquered northern Italy and declared war on Britain in 1806, he banned all English-imported goods, including cocoa beans.

As a result, pastry growers in Turin decided to switch to something a little closer to home – hazelnuts, which are grown in abundance in the surrounding green hills.

After mixing them with sugar and very little cocoa, they were still on their shelves, they were able to make a rich paste that was eventually refined and incorporated into the gianduotto.

A century or so later, Piedmont confectioner Pietro Ferrero created Nutella based on that old recipe.

The best in the world?

The hazelnuts used to make Gianduioto are found growing in the Lange region of Italy.

The hazelnuts used to make Gianduioto are found growing in the Lange region of Italy.

Cooper / Alstein Build / Getty Images

Castagna says that in the 1800s, hazelnuts were very cheap, but now things are very different. Not only is it more expensive, but the “Tonda Gentle” hazelnuts produced in Lange have protected geographical indication status, a European designation aimed at protecting regional food.

“They are Piedmont’s gold, the best in the world,” he explains, adding that hazelnuts cost 16 per kilogram and € 10 per kilogram for high quality cocoa.

Filled with aromatic oils, they blend perfectly with cocoa butter and enhance its flavor, creating a gentle, soothing and creamy blend.

“Gianduiotto is now a definite chocolate type with dark, white and milk chocolate,” says Castagna.

The most delicious artisan Gianduoti is the one with the highest percentage, usually between 25 and 40%, hazelnut.

Castagna uses a state-of-the-art mechanical process called “extrusion”, where the semi-solid tidbits of giandua paste are squeezed on a tray in the form of gianduoti.

In the old days, making gianduoti was a ritual. The process involves repeatedly battering the hazelnut paste to give it consistency and then kneading it like pizza flour.

The women, known as “Gianduire”, sit in pairs around a table with Gianduea paste in the center.

They will then scoop it up with two long spatulas, turn it several times, and cut it into small pieces with a butter knife, leaving it on the tray to strengthen.

Grandmothers regularly treated their grandchildren in a package of fresh, delicious gianduoti, which they took from chocolate makers, usually immediately after stopping at the bakery.

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By the 1960s, Turin was home to hundreds of artisan boutiques. But as labor costs rose and mass production began, they began to disappear.

Honorable crafts

Now there is only one left – a. Giordano’s boutique. The historic Chocolate Lab, founded in 1897, has only a few ginduirs left.

Owner Laura Faletti says, “We are the ones who still make Giandooti by hand. It is very expensive to employ such skilled labor.”

“This is a job that only women can do. It requires a lot of passion, patience and precision. A little bit like hand stitching. It can be very tedious. Muscle cramps. “

To make gianduiotti, they press the gianduia mixture into lasagne-like sheets. Faleti says the sheets are then shredded and pasted onto an old granite basin, as was used in the past.

Gianduiera Ambra Nobili, 32, has been making A. Giordano’s gianduiotti since graduating from the local pastry academy.

“It’s the chocolate of prestige, I’ve always loved it,” says Nobley. “I am full of joy when, after a hard day’s hard work, cutting and shaping the 48 kg Gianduoti with another Gianduira, I finally see how perfect and beautiful they look and how I am constantly improving.”

The secret of the craft, Noble says, lies in the strong and rapid movements of the wrists and hands so that the paste can be scooped before it becomes strong, smooth it out with a spatula and give it a final cut with a butter knife to achieve a prism-like. Shape

“If the cut isn’t perfect, the gianduyoto will be too tall or too short, and won’t fit in a golden aluminum casing, which corresponds to a certain size,” she explains. “I also wrap each one by hand.

Extremely pure

Artisan chocolate chocolate Guido Castagna has created a very refined version of Gianduooto chocolate called Giunot.

Artisan chocolate chocolate Guido Castagna has created a very refined version of Gianduooto chocolate called Giunot.


Gianduiotto is not available all year round. The artisan stops boutique production when spring is approaching to avoid the sale of melted chocolate, which is actually another delicious dish made with giandua hazelnut paste.

For those who prefer their chocolate in nutella-style spreads, Gianduotto has its own version, “crema spalmabile di Gianduja,” with a slightly grainy texture that tastes wonderful on bread.

Like the Gianduyotto, the Crima Spalmabil de Gianduja is made with great effort.

“Our spread is the final product of 72 hours of mechanically mixing and blending the paste – it’s a full three days, while the other Giandua spread is ready in four hours. We have a fresh and healthy one,” says Faleti.

While Faletti’s spread is 40% with Giandua hazelnuts, Castagna’s is 68%.

Castagna has rediscovered Gianduioto by creating a highly refined, rounded teak called guinot (locally meaning “young boy”) with sugarcane and 40% hazelnuts instead of premium Venezuelan cocoa and sugar.

A six-time gold medalist at the International Chocolate Awards, an independent competition recognizing excellence in the manufacture of fine chocolate, Guinot comes wrapped in a copper-colored gloss.

Castagna often has wine tasting, paired with guinea pigs from Piedmont’s Vermouth wine and other sweet alcoholic beverages such as Passito, which they believe complements the chocolate tasting experience.

Other chocolatiers have also experimented with new Gianduoto blends and sizes. You can also get an orange-flavored giandoot, as well as a giant weighing between 250 grams and 1.2 kilograms. But pocket-sized items are still the most popular.

David Appendino uses high quality organic cocoa beans to make other top Turin chocolate, pistachios, coffee, white chocolate, dark chocolate and sugar free giandooti.

Appendino also produces mini giandooti, ​​which is slightly smaller than traditional dishes.

But as the Italians say, “one chocolate calls for another,” and when it comes to Gianduoto chocolate, whatever its size, it’s hard to resist the temptation to eat whole flour.

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