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|Gianduja (sugar, cocoa, hazelnuts)|
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The Gianduiotto (IPA: [dʒanduˈjɔtːo]; Piedmontese, Giandojòt) is a Piedmontese chocolate whose shape is similar to an upturned boat. Gianduiotti are individually wrapped in a tinfoil cover, usually gold or silver-colored. It is the speciality of Turin, and takes its name from gianduja, the preparation of chocolate that is used for gianduiotti and other sweets (including Nutella and Bicerin Di Gianduiotto); in turn, this preparation is named after Gianduja, a mask in commedia dell'arte that represents the archetypal Piedmontese.
Gianduiotti are produced from a paste of sugar, cocoa and the hazelnut Tonda Gentile delle Langhe. The official “birth” of gianduiotti is set at 1865 in Turin, by Paul Caffarel and Michele Prochet, the first to completely grind hazelnuts to a paste before adding them to the cocoa and sugar mix.
Apparently, the idea of mixing hazelnut pieces to “standard” chocolates was born during Napoleon’s reign, when importing cocoa from South America became extremely difficult. “Raw” cocoa was extremely expensive, so local producers started incorporating bits of roasted hazelnuts (hazelnuts are locally grown and were easy to come by in Piedmont) to make the final product more affordable.
Gianduiotto options in America are few, due to their high price and instability on the shelf. Perugina is the mostly widely available brand, thanks to their status as a subsidiary of Nestlé; the best gianduiotti readily available in the U.S. are made by Venchi, a Piedmontese company.