I was first introduced to Gianduja when we were traveling from Chamonix to Torino. During our 2 hour drive to Torino, our driver had enthusiastically recommended us to try the gelato at Gelateria Fiorio where, in his opinion, the best gelato in Torino can be found. He had also specifically suggested that I try the Gianduja gelato…’a chocolate with some kind of nuts’ – he struggled to find the exact word as he rattled on in his animated Italian accented English. I sat next to him, with my furrowed brows trying to catch every word he was saying, remembering every street, every restaurant he was recommending… while all my friends were napping away in the back seat. I marvel that I could still grasp the word Gianduja and I recall the image of Nutella flashing through my mind as he spoke about chocolate and nuts… And I wasn’t far off, for Gianduja is indeed a sweet chocolate mixed with 30% hazelnut paste
Italy is one of the top 5 producers of Hazelnuts in the world. The Piedmonte region,of which Torino is the capital, is the 4th largest Hazelnut producing region in Italy. The lore of Gianduja narrates that this candy evolved due to the shortage of cocoa and the abundance of Hazelnut in the Piedmonte region. Typically shaped like a triangular trough and wrapped in gold /silver foil, these candies are super smooth and melt in your mouth. I especially like the dark chocolate versions I tried from Venchi ,the dark chocolate intensity of which, balances the sweetness of the Gianduja perfectly.
So imagine my delight when I spotted this Gianduja Chocolate Chunk Cookies Recipe in Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie. It was perfect as I still have a packet of Gianduja in the fridge and have been craving for cookies to go with my morning coffee.
What you get is the subtle flavour of milk chocolate and roasted hazelnuts. The clever incorporation of ground rolled oats further augmented the nutty texture of the cookies. For those who are keen to try this recipe but are not able to get Gianduja, I am imagining that chopped up Ferraro Rocher (refrigerate before chopping) would probably work beautifully. Otherwise, as Tish Boyle had referenced in her book, Callebaut supplies a good Gianduja for baking.
From Torino, we then moved on to Milan where we were just in time to take advantage of the sales season and to take in the breathtaking sights of the Duomo. What was also memorable for me is a lovely boutique hotel, The Yard Suite & Dependence. An luxurious and chic property occupying 2 floors of a private apartment building, The Yard is run and managed like an exclusive and stylish guest house, comprising of 6 suites and 2 dependances (bigger rooms) – each spotting a unique sports deco theme. I had chosen the Hunting Suite, where deer antler plagues adorn walls and soft furnishings bore motifs of forest deers. The owner who is in the entertainment business (he organises concerts featuring Madonna and the likes) clearly has impeccable taste and a penchant for beautiful things. I felt a little out of place when I learnt that the rest of the guests there were from the modeling and fashion industry (it is Milan, after all) but the staff there were really friendly and had made me feel at home. I would highly recommend The Yard and will not hesitate to go back again… maybe next time, I will pick the Tennis room ?….
More scenes from Duomo
Magnificient sculptures at Duomo.
Inside Leonardo Da Vinci Museum…
Hunting Suite where I stayed at The Yard, Milan.
Hunting Suite, The Yard, Milan
Car Racing Suite, The Yard, Milan
Doorway to Horse Riding Suite…
Chill out area at reception, The Yard, Milan.
Patio at The Yard
Kitchen at The Yard, Milan
Dining area, The Yard, Milan
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ cup rolled oats
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 5 tbsp vegetable shortening
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1½ tsp light corn syrup
- 1 large egg
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- 7 ounces (198g) gianduja chocolate cut into ½ inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 350F or 170C.
- Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and set aside.
- In a electric mixer bowl, mix butter, shortening, sugars and corn syrup until creamy (about 2 mins).
- Add lightly beaten egg and mix until well blended. Add vanilla extract.
- At low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients.
- Fold in Gianduja chips until evenly distributed.
- Measure out rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and using wet hands roll each portion into a round ball. Arrange the balls 2 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake the cookies at 350F/170C for 10 -12 mins until just golden brown.
- Cool down cookies completely and store in air tight cookie jars.