The Wonders of Hazelnut
Posted: Apr 11 2013
The first time I tried Nutella, I fell in love instantly with the smooth and creamy paste of chocolate that never failed to bring a smile to my face. Little did I know back when I was five, that what made Nutella so delicious wasn't just milk chocolate but the rich flavor of roasted hazelnuts. Ferrero’s famous Nutella, was invented in the 1940’s as a remedy to cope with the limited supply of cocoa during World War II. Since hazelnuts grew in abundance in the Piedmont region of Italy, Mr. Ferrero intelligently used hazelnut along with cocoa and offered to the world, a creation that will probably never cease to exist! The inspiration behind Nutella began with the Italians. The concept of marrying chocolate with hazelnut to form a paste, known as Gianduja was first introduced in Turin, Italy during Napolean’s reign.
As a matter of fact, one of the first Gianduja bars was made by Italian chocolate maker Caffarel which also happens to be my favorite hazelnut-inspired bar at the store. A very traditional bar with no surprises, the second you take a bite, it will melt in your mouth, leaving behind a creamy hazelnut after-taste.
Amedei, another famous Italian brand, specializes in Gianduja bars as well. In contrast to Caffarel, Amedei’s Gianduja bar has a bolder hazelnut flavor as it contains a higher percentage of roasted hazelnut paste and a lesser amount of milk chocolate, making it an ideal choice for those who prefer milder sweetness levels.
Apart from hazelnut paste, whole hazelnuts infused in chocolate, bring life to a simple bar of chocolate. Cote D’Or’s Belgian milk chocolate with hazelnut pieces is smooth on the outside and crunchy on the inside. The lightly roasted hazelnuts complement the strikingly sweet milk chocolate. On the other hand, Italian chocolate company Venchi’s milk chocolate hazelnut bar carries a more natural flavor since the large chunks of hazelnuts overpower the milk chocolate.
Of course, another irresistible form of hazelnut is when its paste is sandwiched between wafers. There is always a beautiful connection between wafers and cream, and Manner’s hazelnut cream wafers need no explanation as the name says it all. An Austrian specialty, they are a great tea time snack and taste wonderful when dipped in cold milk or accompanied with vanilla ice cream (I must warn you, it is hard to stop with just one!).
Hazelnuts are very unique when compared to other nuts because they have the special power to be either subtle and become one with the chocolate or be bold and redefine the taste of chocolate. Either way, the hazel-choco combo is worth a try and never fails to impress.