History of chocolate-making in Torino
Chocolate making in Turin began in the 16th century. Almost two centuries later on during Napolean's reign cocoa was in short supply - and expensive - so chocolatiers in Turin decided to use a blend of 30% local hazelnut paste combined with chocolate as a way to satisfy demand and extend the limited supply of available chocolate. The idea was brilliant and the texture and flavor profile of the hazelnut and chocolate combination was an instant success.
The new chocolate creation was first marketed during Carnival so chocolatiers decided to name it gianduia after Turin's archetypal Carnival mask character, Gianduia.
To this day gianduia chocolates are the pride of Turin and one of Italy's première chocolate products.
Hazelnuts are grown locally in the Langhe area of Piedmont so they were a logical choice for Piedmontese chocolatiers. In addition, the paste made from hazelnuts is delicious and creamy so a perfect blend with chocolate. When chocolatiers in Torino first made gianduia chocolates hazelnuts were inexpensive although this is no longer the case.
Guido Castagna and his eponymous gianduia company
Guido owns one of the newer gianduia companies in Turin but in the 20 years since he opened up he's become perhaps the best gianduia maker in Torino. He and his wife have one chocolate shop in the center of Turin and their production facility is just outside of the city center. The company has about 12 employees.
Just before the pandemic Guido added an online shopping option to his company and good thing because it saved the company during the pandemic and Italy's lockdown period. Because it's so hot in the summer months online sales are suspended until September but in the meantime you can have a look at the online product line so you're ready to purchase some Guido Castagna chocolate in the fall.
If you're interested in a tour of Guido's gianduia facility just contact the company here to set up a time to visit.
A gianduia chocolate making class isn't feasible because the production time is lengthy and chocolate is produced in one season and the hazelnut paste in another. Guido offers chocolate making courses for professionals but it's a much longer course than a simple one-off class for chocolate lovers.
Guido also offers tastings with wine and chocolate pairings.
If you aren't familiar with wines from the Piedmont region be sure to read this Piedmont wine article. Piedmont produces some of Italy's very best wines.
Some of the Piedmont region wines are quite expensive but here are three delicious lesser known red wines that happen to be among my favorites.
Guido Castagna product line
The Guido Castagna company makes chocolate bars, the classic gianduia chocolates individually wrapped in foil (Giuinott), two kinds of delicious spreadable gianduia and a few more products you'll find in their online shop.
Guido Castagna's spreadable gianduia:
Other products born from gianduia
The Cremino has three layers. The outer layers are made with gianduia chocolate, and the inner layer has either a coffee, lemon or hazelnut paste filling.
The Cremino was born in 1911 when car manufacturer Fiat launched a contest for Italian chocolate makers to create a new chocolate to publicise their new model, the Fiat Tipo 4.
I use gianduia Cremino chocolates instead of the classic "kiss" when I bake peanut butter thumbprint and other chocolate filled cookies at Christmas.
Almost everyone knows Nutella, the delicious and world renowned chocolate and hazelnut spread. It's the favorite after school snack of every Italian child and now much appreciated worldwide – and not just by children! One of my favorite recipes I created a few summers back is a banana bread filled with dollops of Nutella.
Chocolate gianduia truffles
Chocolate gianduia truffles are another way to enjoy gianduia chocolate!
Explore Turin's chocolate shops & cafes and delicious pastries
When you visit the city stroll around and sample the delicacies in the incredible cafes and pasticcerie.
Hot chocolate is another favorite Torinese treat
Torino's hot chocolate isn't the usual hot chocolate made with milk, sugar and chocolate. Instead it's a luscious and indulgent drink that is so thick you eat it with a spoon. It's made from chocolate and hot water, so it's all about indulging yourself in exquisite chocolate.
Another delicious Italian chocolate in the heart of Sicily
Modica in Sicily is famous for its delicious and unusual cold-pressed chocolate. Here's what you need to know about unique Modica chocolate and how you can visit the number one and most historic producer when you're in Sicily.
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