Heart of Gianduja

Today I come to you with great tidings, for two reasons! 

Firstly, I am so ridiculously proud that I managed to reach my 20,000th visitor today! I know I’m not exactly the biggest or the best at food blogging, but seeing as I started out to just document my own recipes and leave future me tips on my baking endeavors, I’m pretty excited. It makes me sort of glad that I am both disorganised and forgetful enough to warrant this online-notebook. 

I did only realise the milestone this morning, so I’ve not had much of an opportunity the bake anything celebratory yet, but I will! So – I’ll keep it short and non-cheesy – thank you if you’ve enjoyed coming to my blog and reading. I hope I’ve helped somewhat, I’m not revolutionary, I just love to cook and hopefully have inspired some of you guys to cook your own bits and pieces at home. Moving on anyway from the cheesy crap, I’ve not exactly won an Oscar. 

I just so happened that I happened across some broken pieces of beautiful Gianduja (/Gianduia) chocolate log from Hotel Chocolat, it’s studded with whole hazelnuts and pistachios and is absolutely divine. Too divine, one could argue, to throw away the broken pieces of gloriousness. So, I baked them into butter biscuits. Honestly, waste not want not. They didn’t come out as perfectly as I’d hoped. I was incredibly impatient and over-did the flour a little in my eagerness to make a workable dough, but they still tasted beautiful and looked pretty so here’s a cute little picture I tested out for you to see what I’ve been getting up to.

Seeing as my recipe isn’t perfected, I won’t include it today. But don’t fret my lovelies, I will bequeath unto you a short history on Gianduja for those who aren’t familiar… or for those who’ve never tried it. Since making the biscuits (and the >Vegan Cupcakes< last week), I’ve really been wondering how so few people know what it is. And you guys seriously do need to know. It’s freaking delicious.

There are some basics you should probably know before hand, Gianduja can also be called Gianduia, but it’s the same thing, so don’t get yourself bogged down in specifics! It’s Italian, specifically from the Piedmont region of Italy (think Western region, bordering France), a region which is particularly famous for hazelnut confection, cakes and biscuits. It is a silky mixture of very finely milled hazelnuts (or Tonda Gentile delle Langhe), a little sugar and cocoa to make a beautiful melting sensation. It was originally developed to help bulk out confection to cope with a cocoa shortage in the 19th Century by the chocolatiers of Piedmont. Because of the abundance of hazelnuts growing in the area, it was the best thing to bulk it out with, simply. From then on it has been staple and part of classic Piedmontese sweet cuisine. Also, because of it’s proud roots in the region, it was also ultimately named after Turin’s masked representative in the Commedia dell’arte, Gianduia. 

Thanks to Sausyn over at Flickr for letting me use this photograph!

One of the confections, you may already be well acquainted with if you’ve ever been to Italy. It is the notorious Gianduiotti. They can be shaped like the underside of the boat or a lemon wedge, which is very common, although in the past they were called givo, which means cigar butt, because they were literally just a short stubby shape. They are so delightfully buttery and melting on the tongue, that you can’t simply have one. You can sit in the hot Summer sun, nibbling on the corners of these beautiful little creations and a hot, strong coffee in hand. Leaving in tow a tower of gold foil in which these delicacies are carefully folded. I’m not even kidding when I say I bought a bag for a present, and conveniently consumed the entire thing on a long train journey through Italy this Summer. I have no shame! If you’ve had these little morsels of heavenly delight, then you will understand my overstated gluttony.

I must bring you onto the subject of Nutella, briefly. It’s not exactly the same, a little sweeter and softer then its Italian counterpart, but it has the same heart. Even going to such lengths that the original name for it was Pasta Gianduja, and it was developed in the Piedmont region. Obviously it is mass-produced, bulked with sugar and palm oil, so you wont get that ultimately melting goodness. I didn’t grow up with Nutella, it has no nostalgic resonance with me, so I don’t rate it hugely. I promise that’s not me being a snob, I think I’m just slowly developing an aversion to overly sweet things, and unfortunately, it is under that classification.

My second reason of tidings (I didn’t forget!) is that I’m holding a giveaway on my Facebook page very soon, and if you guys wanna take part there’s a little button on the side of the page that you can click to ‘like’ my page. Urgh, look at me getting all promoting! It will be a lot of fun, I promise, and the details of the prizes (yes, there’ll be more than one) will be sent through the Facebook page any day now. 

Well, I certainly learned something new today.


ps – I also hope you guys like my new logo design, let me know what you think of little Samson the mouse and his umbrella!