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A Short History of Gianduja

August 17th, 2023


                                                         Heavenly Hazelnuts and Creamy Chocolate

Milk Chocolate Gianduja Terrine

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Gianduja, a delicious, mouthwatering hazelnut chocolate has a rich and fascinating history that is intertwined with Italian history and the celebratory festival – carnival!

Chocolate and Nuts – a divine marriage ? This is the nutty flavour that will make you fall in love again with chocolate. But what is Gianduja? How is is pronounced? Where does it come from? Why is it connected to carnival? We will answer these questions. You will know it from a famous spread. But this is not gianduja – as it full of sugar and ultra-processed foods (UPF) like Palm oil. Gianduja has a rich and interesting history, intertwined with the ancient wonders of Italy.

At melt we are against UPF as we believe it damages our clients health. We never compromise on the quality and taste of our chocolate. We want you to experience Gianduja as it was intended by its created in the orchards of Piedmont.

What is Gianduja? 

So, what is Gianduja? Gianduja is handcrafted by mixing toasted Piedmont hazelnuts with rich chocolate. It turns into this delectable paste which is soft, decadent and nutty. Usually the mixture contains about 30% hazelnut and the rest milk chocolate. At Melt our Choconola is 50% Piedmont Hazelnuts, 30% Chocolate solids, including whole roasted hazelnuts to increase the pleasure of the crunchy hazelnut texture.

Gianduja paste with whole hazelnuts

How was Gianduja invented?

So how did the hazelnut of Piedmont become the delicious, soft, nutty treat that is Gianduja?

The history of Gianduja starts during a Napoleonic lockdown. Lockdowns can result in a burst of creativity and innovation. During the Napoleonic wars – the battle between the Elephant (Napoleon) and the Whale (Nelson) led to a European-wide lockdown. Nelson and the British Navy enforced a blockade on European ports in response to Napoleon’s trade war called the “Continental System”.

This lockdown put a huge strain on cocoa supplies. A chocolatier in Turin, named Michele Prochet, extended the little chocolate he had by mixing it with hazelnuts from the hills of Piedmont. He was forced to use local, widely available ingredients to make his chocolate go a little further.  To satisfy his customers demand for chocolate,  during this Napoleonic lockdown, Gianduja was born.

Hazelnut forest in Italy

Where does the name Gianduja come from?

The name Gianduja, comes from a carnival or marionette character, represented by one of the masks of the Italian Commedia dell’arte. The direct translation of Italian Commedia dell’arte is “comedy of the profession”. This was a form of Italian theatre that flourished throughout Europe from the 1500s to 1700s. It is said to have inspired and developed into the “pantomime” in England, what we all know best through the Punch-and-Judy show. There was a large emphasis on comedy, playing out particular depictions and scenarios to humour the crowd.

Italian Commedia dell'arte Art work

Gianduja is the archetypal Piedmontese, an honest peasant,  a lover of wine, gastronomy, and beautiful girls. According to the records, Gianduja has a ruddy face and hair in an upturned ponytail. He is typically dressed in a brown jacket edged with red, a yellow waistcoat, green and knee-length trousers, red stockings and flat shoes with brass buckle. He has a sly look, a mug always full of wine and a benevolent smile. Melt’s mouthwatering Gianduja chocolate is a suitable tribute to this cheerful, celebratory character.

Gianduja character


Carnival of Turin & Gianduja

The word “Carnival” is of Christian origin, also spelled Carnaval, or Carnevale from the expression carne levare, which means “remove meat”or”farewell to meat”. As Lent and the anticipation of fasting encouraged a period of feasting and excess. During Carnival, the strict rules of Venice  society no longer applied – anything goes- hence the masks – so while it was a farewell to the flesh it has become associated with an excess of flesh.

As part of the carnival in Turin, people would adorn themselves with the mask of Gianduja as part of their celebrations.

Therefore, Gianduja the sweet treat became the perfect food to enjoy the luxuries of carnival. Often made into candies, the chocolate treats were wrapped in paper and boxed with image of Gianduja in the center and the other “commedia dell’arte” masks around.

Melts Mouthwatering Gianduja 

To best experience Melt’s mouthwatering gianduja, imagine a green goddess and her nymphs gathering nuts from the Piedmont forests. Or imagine the decadent celebrations of the carnival of Turin, surrounded by twirling figures, boldly painted masks and laughing. Melt toasts and then blends these hazelnuts with rich chocolate, creating a silky smooth paste of chocolate and hazelnuts. An Italian Classic. We don’t use palm oil in our Gianduja and our packaging is plastic-free.

Gianduja Chocolate Cake

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The super-soft, silky texture of Milk Chocolate Gianduja works so well with the crunchy, whole, roasted hazelnuts in a fabulous ‘terrine’. We are generous with our heavenly hazelnuts! Covering them with creamy 38% milk chocolate. Sticking closely to the history of gianduja, we still use Peidmont toasted hazelnuts and pure chocolate. All handmade in small batches in our Notting Hill kitchen.

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Gold Bar, Dark & Milk Hazelnut Bars

Given the popularity of our Gianduja and Hazelnut slabs, we also have them available in chocolate bars. Beautiful Dark & Milk Chocolate bars with whole roasted hazelnuts. We hope you enjoy this sumptuous combination of nuts and chocolate! Dark Chocolate and hazelnuts are totally vegan too.  Our packaging is plastic-free as we care about the largest garden in the world – our oceans.

Superfood: Chocolate & Hazelnuts

The super-soft, silky texture of the Milk Chocolate Gianduja works so well with the crunchy, whole, roasted hazelnuts in these fabulous bars – like the Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Bar. We generously cover our heavenly hazelnuts with 70% dark chocolate or silky smooth 38% chocolate.

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Bar

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The ultimate in luxury, you will crave this Gold Milk Chocolate Gianduja Bar forever more. Taste the history of gianduja.  This incredible 50% chocolate is blended with rich creamy gianduja creating a mouthwatering molten melt bar.

Gold Gianduja milk chocolate bar

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Nut & Chocolate Combinations

Superfood: Almonds &  Chocolate

Almonds and Chocolate are a marriage made in heaven. Once you have tasted our divine recipe of dark milk chocolate and toasted almonds, we doubt you’ll be able to stop! The dark milk chocolate with the milky almonds is an act of inspiration.

Dark Milk Almond Chocolate bar

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Pistachios & Chocolate

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Try the combination of our Pistachio Milk chocolate bar and our luxurious Pistachio Blonde bar.

59, Ledbury Road. W11 2AA
6, Clarendon Road. W11 3AA
Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street. W1A 1AB0208 354 0850meltchocolates.com


What is gianduja?

Gianduja is a soft paste made of a mix toasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate. Usually about 50% hazelnuts, 30% chocolate solids.

What is pure gianduja?

Pure gianduja is the highest quality hazelnut paste. It contains the largest percentage of hazelnuts and chocolate solids - as does not contain substances like palm oil.

What is the hazelnut festival in Italy?

Carnival in Turin, Italy is celebrated with the mask of Gianduja, which is also a popular hazelnut chocolate treat.








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