GIANDUIA IS THE NAME
The secret of Piedmontese chocolate is a cocoa and hazelnut paste, a combination resulting in the creation of giandiuotti, cremini, bicerin and even Nutella. Whether you bite, spread or drink it, in Turin, this ‘food of the gods’ is an institution. For th
The secret of Piedmontese chocolate is a cocoa and hazelnut paste, a combination resulting in the creation of gianduiotti, cremini, bicerin and even Nutella!
Once upon a time there was a cruel king. He forbade people to eat something sweet that they loved. However, two enterprising artisans found a way to replicate this confection which turned out to be even better than the original. This happened mid-19th century, and the king was Napoleon I of France. His edict, known as the ‘Continental Blockade’, prohibited all commerce, trade and communication with the British Isles, severely limiting cocoa imports to Italy. It was then that two confectioners, named Caffarel and Prochet, decided to try out a new paste. They used ground hazelnuts, which grew in abundance in Piedmont, to stretch the little amount of cocoa available, to create something new: individually wrapped chocolates, shaped to resemble overturned boats. To promote them, they used the ancient tradition of distributing candies on the street during carnival festivities. The traditional mask of Turin was Gianduja, so these new candies were called gianduiotti (little gianduja), while gianduia became Turin’s famous chocolate-hazelnut spread. It was so popular that it became the signature ingredient of Piedmontese chocolate and was later exported throughout the world.
The real story of the birth of the ‘gianduiotto’ has legendary connotations. This symbolic chocolate of Turin can still be savoured in the delicious, artisanal hand-extruded version at various places across the city. The chocolate-hazelnut combination has become so well known in Piedmont that it is used as the basis for a number of traditional products. These include the ‘ cremino’ (an exquisite squareshaped praline comprising three layers of different chocolate), the ‘ nocciolato’ (a chocolate bar containing whole roasted hazelnuts), the ‘ bicerin’ (a mixture of coffee, chocolate and cream served layered in a small rounded glass) and Nutella. This creamy spread, which has become a culinary icon worldwide, was invented in Piedmont, from the same marriage of chocolate and Piedmont hazelnuts.
ILLUSTRIOUS NAMES AND SWEET STORIES
Turin has its own chocolate kings: contemporary masters who make the tradition vibrant and current. Guido Gobino, the son of a chocolate maker who started working in the business in the 50’s, is currently one of the world’s best-known, award-winning chocolatiers. In Japan, in the period leading up to Valentine’s Day, Gobino is often
a guest of honour at the department stores selling his chocolate. While there, he is often asked to sign hundreds of boxes of his limited edition artisanal chocolate. His celebrity status is no surprise, given that, over the years, he has won numerous awards including the London Academy of Chocolate’s ‘best praline in the world’ award, the Compagnia del Cioccolato’s ‘ Tavoletta d’Oro’ (golden bar) award for his gianduia bar containing over 39% IGP-certified Piedmont hazelnuts, and a bronze medal from the Academy of Chocolate for his hot chocolate. Another big name in the chocolate industry is the Peyrano family, a ‘chocolate house’ that has delighted the palates of the Torinese, including members of the Savoy family, since 1915. Their gianduiotti are classic, their ‘Grappino’ iconic, and their history romantic. In 1962, Giorgio Peyrano invited Bruna, a young girl who had caught
his fancy, to visit his workshop. As a gift, Bruna bought him a bottle of grappa from her father. To thank him, and possibly to make a good impression, the young Peyrano set to work and created a dark chocolate praline filled with a drop of grappa which instantly became a big hit. It is probably the chocolatier’s most successful creation and was the precursor of the numerous liqueur-filled chocolates that continue to delight the palates of chocolate connoisseurs today. And what about Gustavo Pfatisch? The story of this master chef of Bavarian origin is inextricably linked to the history of the city. Pfatisch was born in Piedmont in 1887 and moved to Turin, where he opened a pastry shop which soon became be a landmark destination. Reminiscent of the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka (the main character ch in Roald Dahl’s novel ‘ Charlie and the
Ch Chocolate Factory’ and the film by Tim Burton starring sta Johnny Depp), his beautifully preserved historic his workshop has often been used as a set for Italian films and TV series. The list of master confectioners co associated with the addresses of ancient, illustrious venues where you can savour sav authentic Piedmontese chocolate is lengthy. len These include the chocolate shop of Guido Gu Castagna, Baratti & Milano, a historic café caf and confectioner which has overlooked piazza pia Castello since 1858, and Il Bicerin, an iconic locale established in Turin in 1763 which gave birth to the city’s signature drink (for more information see our Food&Wine section). However, if you happen to be visiting Turin this month, you’ll have a unique opportunity to see the city transformed into one large chocolate shop!
CIOCCOLATO, THE TASTIEST EVENT OF THE YEAR
This month Turin pays tribute to its age-old chocolate-making tradition with CioccolaTo 2018, an action-packed event that transforms the centre of the city into an open-air confectioner’s workshop. There will be more than 100 educational workshops, conventions, performances and many other forms of entertainment, including demos by some of the finest master chocolatiers in the streets of the centre, plus loads of delicious artisanal chocolate just waiting to be tasted, purchased and discovered. Two ‘chocolate factories’ will be set up in piazza San Carlo. One, named ‘bean-tobar’, will demonstrate the chocolate production cycle, while the second will pay tribute to the city of Turin with the on-site production of the famous Turinese gianduiotto, from hazelnuts to the finished product. The event will also feature competitions between chefs and celebrities who’ve been invited to submit their best ideas for chocolate desserts to the judges. The festival is open daily from 9 to 18 November from 10am to 6pm. Access is free of charge and the event takes place in piazza San Carlo and surrounding areas.
Giandujotto by Guido Gobino.
Gift box by Baratti & Milano Baratti & Milano
Confetteria Pasicceria Pfatisch
The ‘ Grappino’ by Peyrano