The Noble Hazelnut
If you find yourself in Italy at first sign of autumn you will encounter a feeling of excitement in the air as autumn in Italy is a time of great harvest for everything from vineyards to mushrooms, chestnuts and hazelnuts. It is difficult to explain just how unique Baratti & Milano chocolates are without mentioning the most world renowned hazelnuts that make up the distinct flavor you find when eating any one of our classic chocolates, from the Classic Cremino to our Nocciolato and our Gianduja chocolates, all extraordinary in flavor made from the famously known “Tonda e Gentile” hazelnuts.
The “Tonda e Gentile” hazelnuts from the Langhe area are truly one of a kind with distinctive characteristics and cultivated with the highest level of regard. Anyone and everyone that has an interest in Hazelnuts knows that the very best come from the Piedmont Region in fact, the area where the hazelnuts are cultivated is so concentrated in high quality land and cultivation of foods and wines that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The protected geographical indication (PGI or IGP) is a badge of honor guaranteeing excellence, tradition and specialization. The specific Piedmontese soil is able to sustain the hazelnut trees producing a sweeter, more delicate hazelnut perfect for its purpose in the Cremino making process. In fact it is the ONLY region that is able to sustain these particular hazelnut trees is the Piedmont area that Baratti & Milano uses for its Cremino and other chocolates.
We constantly refer to our hazelnuts as “Tonda Gentile del Piemonte”, translating to “round noble from Piedmont”. Dante once described this particular hazelnut as “Round was she, beautiful, and of noble aspect”. It might seem silly to reference a hazelnut as “noble” but as the Baratti & Milano history states, they were the Official Chocolatiers of the Royal House of Savoy, meaning that the highest of honors was bestowed upon the confectionary company and therefore they were held to the highest of standards when choosing their ingredients to use in the chocolates. Cultivating these hazelnuts is done in the highest of tradition and with great care. Small in size but mighty in flavor and history, there is no denying the differentiation in flavor that is the “Tonda e Gentile” hazelnut that is intertwined throughout the variety of hazelnut chocolates we know and love in particular the famous Cremino, Gianduiotto and Nocciolatino, all distinct in flavor and class.
Next time you take a trip to Italy, perhaps you detour to the Piedmont Region to visit the rows of hazelnut trees lined exactly 5 meters apart and see firsthand how new methods of cultivation do not veer too far away from the traditional way of gentile and tender care given to the cultivation of these wonderfully sweet and noble hazelnuts. If you are able to try one on their own it has been noted that you might be spoiled and never want for another type of hazelnut again. Luckily Baratti & Milano has an array of hazelnut chocolates waiting to be adopted by a hazelnut enthusiast such as yourself!
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