Word of Mouth: Gianduja

Gianduja (jhe-yan doo yah), noun - A smooth spread made of chocolate and ground hazelnuts, from the Piedmont region in Italy. (Variation: Gianduia)

Before Nutella, there was gianduja! Do you love this nutty chocolate butter as much as we do?We'd be happy eating a spoonful of gianduja straight from the jar, but it's just as much a treat to spread it on a piece of toast, a croissant, or - luxuries of luxuries - warm baguette. We associated it with relaxed weekend breakfasts, the kind where you sit for hours with a bottomless cup of coffee and the weekend crossword. We also associate it with afternoon snacks furtively eaten before anyone realizes what we're doing and asks for a bite!

If we can restrain ourselves from eating it straight, gianduja is an excellent ingredient to have around for baking. You can definitely make it yourself, and it keeps in the fridge just like peanut butter. You can thin it with a little cream to make a nice ganache or use it to sandwich cookies together. We've had gianduja mousse and gianduja gelato before, and watch out for dangerously addictive gianduja truffles (which are really just another excuse to eat it plain, right?!).

DIY Nutella/Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Cook & Eat
Gianduja Mousse from Food & Wine
Hazelnut Macarons with Gianduja Ganache from Canelle et Vanille
Chocolate Rice Pudding with Gianduja Whipped Cream from the Pastry Wiz
Gianduja Brownies from Epicurious

What's your favorite way to enjoy gianduja?

Related: Weekend Cooking: Make Crepes!

(Image: Mark Finley, Art.com)

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