This classic gianduja gelato made with real roasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate has a nutty sweetness that is reminiscent of childhood treats. It’s an unforgettable, heart-warming dessert!
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Gianduja is one of those quintessential Italian flavors, one most of us North Americans came to know under the brand name Nutella. Gianduja was indeed first a spread created in the North of Italy in the early 19th century. It is said that the import law of the time-restricted cocoa supplies, and that gave an Italian chocolatier from Turin the idea of combining chocolate with hazelnuts, which he had liberal access to. This combination was so popular that a chocolate manufacturer soon created a mass-produced milk chocolate hazelnut candy—and the rest is history.
The gianduja “flavor” is now applied to so many treats, from candies to cakes. Gianduja gelato is also a hugely popular flavor, along with Baci, another candy-inspired flavor that combines dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Both flavors are dreamy, but I keep going back to gianduja gelato for its nutty sweetness that reminds me of the spoonfuls of Nutella I’d secretly steal from the rare jars that made it into my parents’ pantry when I was a child.
Making homemade gianduja gelato is pretty simple: you add milk chocolate to a Sicilian-style gelato base, then mix in ground toasted hazelnuts. The result is an unforgettable treat that pleases everyone, from kids to kids-at-heart.
For the best gianduja gelato flavor and texture, make sure to use quality baking chocolate. The cacao content should be between 30 and 40%. I recommend the following brands:
Lots of gianduja gelato recipes take the shortcut of stirring Nutella into the gelato base. Sure, Nutella is a delicious treat, but for the real taste of toasted hazelnuts to carry through—and to enjoy the most delightful combination with milk chocolate—you must use real nuts. This is how authentic gianduja is made. Try it once and you’ll never want to have it any other way!
Peeling hazelnuts is really easy! The key is to roast them first.
To roast and peel hazelnuts, spread them over a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (170°C) for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the skin of the hazelnuts is shiny and crackled, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain and that’s ok, simply make sure to discard all the loose papery bits. Keep the roasted hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Some companies, such as Yupik in Canada and AZNUT in the US, sell unsalted roasted hazelnuts. These are more expensive, but a huge time saver. Nuts are expensive and using stale nuts in a dessert is such an awful waste! Make sure to buy roasted nuts from a store with a high turnover and from a company with a good reputation to make sure they are fresh.
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Love gelato? Then you need to give these irresistible gelato recipes a try.
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