The Gianduiotto 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, a mask in commedia dell'arte that
represents the archetypal Piedmontese.
Gianduiotti are produced from a paste of sugar, cocoa and hazelnuts. The official “birth” of Gianduiotti is set at 1865 in
Turin, by Paul Caffarel and Michele Prochet (owners of the company now named
Caffarel Spa), 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.