Caffarel’s legendary gianduja chocolate
What do Napoleon and gianduja have in common? Well, a lot it turns out. In fact, this mouthwatering Italian hazelnut chocolate probably wouldn't exist today if it wasn't for the legendary French Emperor...
Napoleon and the birth of gianduja
In the early 1800s, Turin is Europe's unbeatable capital of chocolate. No surprise, then, that chocolate maker and enterpreneur Pier Paul Caffarel decides to open a chocolate lab in the city in 1826. He buys a novel machine that allows him to produce and sell large quantities of chocolate.
But when French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte launches a navel blockade against Britain, the international cocoa trade comes to a standstill. Chocolate makers across the continent are struggling to get hold of cocoa supplies. Turin and the surrounding region of Piedmont are famous for their hazelnut groves and to make up for the lack of cocoa Pier Paul starts adding a larger proportion of local hazelnuts to his chocolate mix. The result is a surprisingly delicious hazelnut chocolate spread that he decides to call gianduja, named after the theatre and Carnival character of Gianduja, who represents the archetypal Piedmontese.
In 1865, Cafferel creates the first-ever gianduiotto, a solid gianduja chocolate wrapped in foil. It's first presented to the inhabitants of Turin during a Carnival celebration, in which batches of small gianduiotti are thrown in the air for people to catch. Locals instantly fall in love with this divine little chocolate. And we don't blame them.
A quintessential part of Turin
Since then, the gianduiotto has become a quintessential part of Turin’s confectionery scene. Many northern Italian chocolate makers now make their own gianduiotti and gianduja chocolate spread (the latter of which is usually comprised of at least 40% local hazelnuts). However, Caffarel rightly lays claim to being the original inventor of the gianduiotto. More than 155 years after it was first presented, the gianduiotti of Caffarel continue to leave people from around the world wanting for more (yes, they are that good...).