When it comes to delicious combinations, nothing quite beats the satisfying crunch of nuts combined with the smoothness of chocolates. Through childhood and beyond, compelling rich and creamy chocolate-and-hazelnut spread has primarily been a culinary item across the globe. The delicate flavors of chocolates and hazelnuts with their nostalgic charm make for a unique and comforting experience. Today, these nuts are at the heart of the chocolate industry and becoming one of the most favorite ingredients.
The Rise of Hazelnut Chocolate
In modern days, hazelnuts and chocolates are soulmates and their combination may seem as natural as that of bread and butter or salt and pepper. However, the origin of hazelnut chocolate isn’t nearly so simple and begins with an ancestor – gianduia or gianduja – a historical chocolate hazelnut treat.
The history of gianduia is woven into the pop history accounts of related products and splashed across product labels – involving interesting stories of wartime desperation, economic strife, and an industry’s ingenuity. In the early 1800s, Turin, Italy had held the distinction of being the chocolate capital of Europe. But this prominence was expected to collapse, as Napoleon Bonaparte and his Army began to conquer Europe by 1806. The intensifying tension between Britain – a dominant force in maritime trade – and France resulted in a series of naval blockades and trade embargoes. This also cut off Turin’s main cocoa source – Mesoamerica.
From here, abundant hazelnut trees in the surrounding area of Piedmont proved to be the ticket for Turin chocolatiers to supplement their supply and stay in business. The hazelnuts took on the texture of cocoa powder when grounded, which can be used to stretch cocoa that was available in the form of a thick, ganache-like confection. Turin’s chocolatiers thus maintained their local industry by harnessing their resources to create what’s considered to be the early hazelnut chocolate which persisted in popularity for centuries.
Why are Hazelnuts Used in Chocolates Today?
Several studies showed that humans’ taste buds love it when food has contrasting tastes, making the saltiness of nuts, including hazelnut, combined with the sweetness of chocolate a pleasant treat. This phenomenon is known as ‘dynamic sensory contrast’, describing foods with multiple textures in each bite. From chocolate-covered hazelnuts to chocolate hazelnut spread, chocolates and hazelnuts go together perfectly to create luxurious and countless scrumptious treats that warmly satisfy the taste buds.
Now, the question comes, “what chocolate goes best with hazelnut?” Well, milk chocolate is the most popular companion to hazelnuts as their mutual creaminess delivers an unparalleled comfort experience. However, the combination of dark chocolate and hazelnuts is growing in popularity as the bitterness of the former gives the creaminess of the latter an exciting edge. It is also a great source of antioxidants and energy.
Is Hazelnut Chocolate Good for You?
Both hazelnuts and chocolates are packed with nutrients that provide a lot of health benefits. Some of their nutrients include vitamin E, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, magnesium, iron, protein, and healthy fats.
- Loaded with Antioxidants: Antioxidants play a critical role in keeping the body healthy and fighting off free radicals in the body. Hazelnuts as well as chocolates are potent sources of antioxidants. It helps reduce the risk of inflammation and eliminate oxidative stress from the body.
- Energy Boosting: Chocolate contains theobromine, which provides a boost of energy. The darker the chocolate, the more likely it is to boost energy. In addition, hazelnuts contain a combination of good fat and protein which keeps you satiated for a longer period of time and boost your energy.
- Improves Heart Health: That’s right! Both hazelnuts and chocolates are heart-healthy. They may reduce cholesterol, maintain blood pressure, and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, thereby preventing heart problems. Antioxidants present in both the ingredients also play a vital role in improving heart health, as they protect against oxidative damage.
To help our customers reap these benefits, Cocoa Melts offers luscious Barquillo Hazelnut packed with couverture chocolate and hazelnut filling that gives you the ‘dynamic sensory contrast’. Order today to savor this delicious treat.