Notes on chocolate: Italy’s finest bar

Gianduia with its micro-ground Piedmontese hazelnuts is gorgeous, if pricey

If forensics were ever to dust for fingerprints in Selfridges, mine would be all over the La Molina XXL slabs of gianduia. Every time I go in, I pick them up and look longingly, but at a penny off £19 for quarter of a kilo, they stay there.

Gianduia was an early foray into fine chocolate. Almost every southern Italian dining room has a glass bowl filled with an assortment of caramelline and cioccolatini. The gianduia - distinctive in gold foil jacket and triangular prism shape - were the top prize and not really meant for the children. But I beelined for them: soft, yielding, barely solid and probably the most satisfying mouth feel you’ll get in a chocolate. In the hot summer heat you had seconds to open the wrapper and get them into your mouth.

Gianduia is chocolate with micro-ground hazelnuts, specifically Piedmont hazelnuts – the best. Some gianduia also houses whole hazelnuts. These days it is easy to find (sometimes spelt gianduja, I judge: there is no j in the Italian alphabet) and often with pitifully few hazelnuts (the ideal is 40%) and sugar as first ingredient. Barely worthy of the moniker.

Mercifully, Selfridges introduced smaller La Molina bars: still expensive (£8.49/100g) and not as good value, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Marks & Spencer does a surprisingly good, dinky version. Too much sugar and half the amount of hazelnuts it should have, but for £1.50 for two chunky pieces, it might be your introduction.

Contributor

Annalisa Barbieri

The GuardianTramp

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