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You may have seen, in this weeks free newsletter, that I recently put my back out, which put me well and truly out of commission, for almost a week. Because of that I wasn’t able to put in the time nor the effort into producing a new recipe for you, and I never want to skimp on quality. So today, I am diving back into my recipe archive and posting a recipe which never saw the light of day.
This recipe, a gianduja inspired layer cake, was developed for two reasons. One, it was a birthday cake for my boyfriend and two, it was a recipe I included in a failed book proposal. The proposal was for a chocolate based baking book, a deep dive into how chocolate is made, a guide to all of the different types of cocoa and chocolate products and, of course, a whole raft of delicious chocolate based recipes. I loved the idea for this book and put more effort into this proposal than I had ever done before. To say it was a massive flop is a severe understatement, no-one wanted to publish it. I was unbelievably disappointed and still hope that one day I will be able to write that book.
That failure is, however, to your advantage today as it’s where this recipe comes from.
Gianduja, for those of you who don’t know, is the heavenly combination of toasted hazelnuts and chocolate. Not just the two flavours paired together but a unique product where hazelnuts and cocoa are mixed together to make a thick paste called gianduja. If you are a fan of Nutella, Gianduja is the product you need to thank. The hazelnuts are roasted and then ground, mixed with chocolate and then refined into a silky smooth confection. The origins of the paste are rooted in a tumultuous time in Italy during the Napoleonic era. During this period Napoleon placed a widespread embargo on produce coming from the UK and this made importing cocoa into Europe significantly harder. When cocoa beans became so expensive that the Italian chocolate industry started to suffer, clever confectioners in the north of the country, in and around Turin, looked to local products to help them out. They started adding ground hazelnuts to the chocolate liquor as it was refined into chocolate and the resulting confection, gianduja, was born. Outside of the Italy the product seems relegated to the counters of Italian coffee shops and speciality stores, even though it should be available in every supermarket and every corner shop as far as I’m concerned. This cake is truly an homage to the combination of milk chocolate and hazelnut and I think it manages to capture the essence of the real deal.
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