Chocolate hazelnut spread on toast. There’s no food that reminds me more of being a kid. Actually, I lie. PBJ might be a contender for the title. It’s almost too close to call. Anyways… I digress. Flashforward to 2021. I swing by my local baker, pick up a warm, sourdough baguette or a fresh, flaky croissant and voilà, I have myself a worthy grown-up version of a breakfast staple. Or, you know, I could just spoon it straight out the jar and shove it directly into my cakehole.
Flashback to the early 1800s. The Royal Navy’s blockade against Napoleon means exotic ingredient prices are skyrocketing and supplies to the continent are depressingly throttled. Thankfully, some wiley Turinese chocolatiers have devised a solution: blending in local ground hazelnuts to stretch what little they have left of their precious cocoa stash. This hack—affectionately dubbed ‘Pasta Gianduja’— catches on fast and turns out to be an outrageously delicious workaround to an epicurean dilemma caused by a self-appointed emperor with short man syndrome.
Now that you know the “eatymology” of this spreadable joy, the real question is, where am I going with this? Well, I don’t know the last time you looked at the ingredients of The Brand That Shall Not Be Named... but it ain’t pretty. Palm oil? Really? In 2021?! More palm oil than hazelnuts? WTF? SMH. LOL! NWJ. No way, José. The OG Piedmontese Architects Of Amazing would scoff at this sacrilege, I have no doubt.
Chocolate should be naughty, not evil. And honestly, I don’t want to be bumming out about deforestation and animal welfare while I’m lashing luscious layers of love onto my leavened loaves. Who invited the party-poopers? To me, it’s all about steadily making small, incremental changes that, over time, add up to something meaningful. I’m sure you feel the same way. In fact, I’d bet my hazelnuts on it.