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    Recipe for Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

    Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
    Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe
    Gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

    Makes 4 cups

    Nutella, a delicious combination of ground nuts and cocoa, is one of the most recognizable commercial foods in the world. Its more sophisticated predecessor, gianduja, was created in the early 19th century in Turin, Italy, by chocolatiers who added abundant local hazelnuts to their chocolate. In the 1860s, Michele Prochet developed the modern recipe of hazelnut paste, cocoa, sugar, and vanilla and introduced it as cioccolato di Gianduja at a local carnival, naming it for a puppet who symbolized the villagers. It was originally made in fall and winter for liturgical celebrations but its popularity spread and it was then sold in small foiled-wrapped, triangular pieces as gianduiotto. Nutella was created during World War II, when chocolatier Pietro Ferrero, of Ferrero Rocher fame, faced a war-related cacao shortage and combined hazelnuts, almonds, sugar or molasses, cocoa powder, and vegetable fat to create pasta gianduja, a hard loaf sold in slices. In 1949, the accidental addition of cocoa butter made the paste soft enough to spread. Sold under the brand Supercrema, it was incredibly successful until 1962 when Italian law banned superlatives from product names. “Super” could no longer be used. Ferrero tried variations of the English word “nut,” and in 1964, Nutella hit the market. This recipe is for authentic gianduja, made with toasted hazelnuts, sugar, butter, and cream.

    2cups skinned hazelnuts
    cup sugar
    1cup water
    1pound semisweet chocolate (55 to 65 percent cacao), roughly chopped into chunks
    ½cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
    1cup heavy cream
    ½teaspoon salt

    1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are fragrant; cool.

    2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts and sugar for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they form a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times with a spatula as the mixture thickens.

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    3. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and set a large heatproof bowl on the saucepan to cover it; it should not touch the water. Place the chocolate in the bowl and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat. Wipe the bottom dry.

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    4. Stir in the butter until it melts completely. Add the cream and salt and mix until incorporated. Stir in the hazelnuts. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until cool. It will firm and turn into a spreadable consistency similar to cream cheese. Keep covered and chilled until serving. Gianduia can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Remove a spoonful from the container and let it soften at room temperature for 1 hour before using. Adam Centamore