Hazelnut Chocolate Butter Cup
Posted on 19 January 2017
This is the third post in our series that offers more background on a few of our confections. In our family of nine butter cups, if any two flavors could be considered siblings, it would be the Marzipan Truffle Butter Cup, which we celebrated last week, and the Hazelnut Chocolate Butter Cup, which is the focus of our adoration today. Both incorporate a layer of our rich truffle to complement the nutty heart of the cup. Both rely on a candied nut on top for decoration and a satisfying crunch. And both highlight confections that are more popular in Europe than in America… although we certainly hope that won’t always be the case.
The inspiration for our Hazelnut Chocolate Butter Cup is a confection known as gianduja. It is a smooth spread that is part hazelnut paste and part chocolate. In Europe, it is common to see gianduja included among condiments you might layer on your morning toast, and even in the United States it is one of the most common fillings for crepes. But you may not recognize the word “gianduja” because you are only familiar with a particular brand: Nutella. Yes, those increasingly ubiquitous jars of chocolate-hazelnut goodness are introducing Americans to the genius of eating chocolate for breakfast.
Like many other culinary inventions, gianduja was born out of necessity. In the 1700s, the Italian city of Turin relied on imported raw materials to manufacture its fine chocolates, but Napoleon instituted a naval blockade in 1806 that disrupted trade. So, the Italians turned to hazelnuts, which grew abundantly in the Piedmont region of Italy. They found that they could stretch their supply of chocolate by incorporating ground roasted hazelnuts. The Italians named the new confection after one of the stock mask characters in the commedia dell’arte that typically represented the region.
For Ococoa’s version of this confection, we wanted to let the rich flavor of hazelnuts shine through and avoid any unnecessary preservatives. So, we were able to capture the flavor of gianduja by layering a hazelnut butter blend with dark chocolate ganache. Thank goodness Napoleon is no longer around to stop us!
As we put the finishing touches on this post, our kitchen is filled with the aroma of hazelnuts that are being candied for the topping. The vibrant smells of hazelnuts and caramel, especially in contrast with the unusual rainy weather outside, inspires us to enjoy a cup of espresso and some chocolate for breakfast.