Back in 1806, Napoleon imposed restrictions on British goods entering all European ports under French control, which led to a strain on cocoa supplies. A struggling chocolatier in Turin, Michel Prochet, decided to try and eke out the little chocolate he had left by mixing it with hazelnuts. He used hazelnuts grown on Piedmont's indigenous hazelnut trees (now known as Nocciola del Piemonte IGP), which produce a particularly sweet and delicate variety. His experiment was an instant hit with the locals, and the creamy paste of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar and finely ground hazelnuts became known as gianduja, which is also the Italian word for a carnival mask. The language of chocolate and carnival became entwined when Prochet and a fellow chocolatier, Caffarel (whose company is still famous for its chocolate and is now part of the Lindt & Sprungli group!), invented tiny, foil wrapped chocolates made from the sweet hazelnut paste. They called their new product gianduiotti, and launched it at the Turin carnival in 1865, where gianduiotti were handed out by men in gianduja masks.
Saporista's Italian scout, Cristina, has discovered two wonderful pasticceria continuing the delicious gianduja traditions in Piedmont, where the best hazelnuts in the world are grown. In La Morra, in the province of Cuneo, Cristina found Giovanni Cogno, and fell head over heels for his Tartufi Neri, exquisite truffles that combine intense dark chocolate with the intriguing flavour of IGP Piedmont hazelnuts. In Cortemilia, in the Langhe region, Cristina found Stefano and Isabella Barroero who grow hazelnuts and turn them into the delectable treats. Their Biscotti Gianduja mini cookies will melt in your mouth. To try the traditional Piedmont gianduja flavour and the delicate taste of unique Piedmont hazelnuts, head over to Saporista's Christmas Collection now!