Hazelnut + chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations ever. In gelato terms, thats a cup filled half with hazelnut & half with chocolate, every spoonful with some of each. In candy terms, that’s Ferrero Rocher or any truffle that combines the two. & in daily quick fix terms, that means a spoonful of Nutella, jar to mouth with no interference. Don’t pretend you don’t do this. The peanuts & chocolate combo runs a close second, but that’s a story for a different day. Today, beautiful Friday with a couple a snow-free days ahead of us, is for gianduia truffle tart.
Gianduia is a Piedmontese marionette character, known for his affinity for wine, food, & the lovely lady marionettes. But due to the fame of hazelnut confections in the Piedmont area of Italy, Gianduia has evolved to become the name associated with a hazelnut sweet things, like gelato or a truffle. But this wasn’t always the case.
Back in the 1940s, Signore Pietro Ferrero, the pastry maker who would go on to found the great hazelnut-chocolate companies, Nutella & Ferrero Rocher, was trying to make ends meet when rationing due to World War II was making chocolate scarce. He brilliantly chose hazelnuts to fill in for the lacking chocolate & apparently, the nutty edge to his chocolate treats stuck. He called his original company “Pasta Gianduia,” using the marionette as a marketing tactic to appeal to children, & since then, gianduia has stood for the beautiful hazelnut-chocolate marriage in Italy, no matter if the product has the Ferrero stamp of approval or not.
This tart is, truly, very easy to make, thanks to Joanne Chang’s simple recipe for a Homemade Nutella Tart, upon which this recipe is based.. I have faith in you. If you’ve made pie dough before, you can certainly make a tart shell, & if you’ve heated milk on the stove before, you can absolutely make the chocolate filling. Besides, there’s very little that can go wrong when you’re working with chocolate & hazelnuts. There isn’t even any baking involved after you’re done with the tart shell. & the velvety chocolate, paired with the soft crunch of the shortbread-like tart is the best reward of all.
Pate Sucree Tart Shell
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
Combine sugar, salt, & flour, then cut in butter, one tablespoon at a time, till the mixture is sandy looking. Stir in yolk & milk till the dough comes together in a ball, then pat into a rectangle about 1-inch thick, wrap in plastic, & refrigerate for an hour.
On a well floured surface, roll the dough out to a circle with an 11-inch diameter. Press dough into a tart pan, trimming the edges & using the excess to patch up any holes or build up areas that look a little thin. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until the tart shell is a warm golden brown & your kitchen is perfumed with buttery sweet goodness.
Gianduia Truffle Filling
- 1 + 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
- 2 cups Half & Half
- 16 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Toast hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven until the nuts are fragrant & browned, about 10 minutes, then rub the skins off each nut. I know this sounds tedious, but if they’re toasted enough, the skins come right off. Then, count out 20 nuts & set aside - these are for decorating purposes. Divide the rest of the nuts in half. Grind one half till fine, & roughly chop the other half.
Heat the finely ground hazelnuts & the Half & Half over medium heat till the mixture is steaming but not quite boiling. Then, turn off the heat & let the hazelnuttiness infuse the milk for about an hour.
Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, & set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Then go relax for a bit.
After the hour is up, gently reheat the milk mixture back to the steaming point, then pour the mixture into the strainer over the chocolate & filter out all the little hazelnut bits.
Stir the chocolate & milk together to melt the chocolate, add the chopped hazelnuts, the vanilla, & the salt & mix it all up. Pour this into the prepared tart shell, smooth the top, decorate with the remaining whole hazelnuts & then refrigerate for about 4 hours to set. Make it pretty, & this will definitely impress.
Eat & Enjoy!
P.S. I didn’t try it this time, but I’m fairly sure that, if you’re over the moon for this filling, you could refrigerate the filling while it’s still in the bowl, then scoop it into balls with whole hazelnuts in the centers, sprinkle crushed hazelnuts on the outsides & call yourself master of Ferrero Rocher. Maybe you’ll see this grace the pages of Sweet Hearth soon…