Hazelnuts and Chocolate: A European Tradition

Hazelnut Cluster

Chocolate Hazelnut Clusters

Hazelnuts…

With or without chocolate, I’ll choose them any day over any other nuts.  But what is it about hazelnuts that makes them less popular compared to almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts? Over the years we noticed that they always sell less and that customers will get a box of mixed clusters, but tell us to skip the hazelnuts. Is it a European thing? It must be! Growing up in Croatia, every dessert, cookies, ice cream and chocolate was made better with the addition of hazelnuts. Other flavors do not even stand a chance! It is great that they grow in my grandma’s back yard and every summer I visit, our fun family activity is to crack the hazelnuts together.

It seems like all the great European chocolates have some hazelnuts or hazelnut praline in them. We make a few different hazelnut products; hazelnut clusters, dark chocolate Tuscany truffles (chopped hazelnuts in the ganache center and a whole hazelnut on the top) and hazelnut truffles (a hazelnut ganache covered in dark chocolate and rolled in ground hazelnuts). We also make our honey nougat called Torrone which has chopped hazelnuts and almonds inside. They are all amazing!

I wonder why people skip hazelnuts, do they not like the taste or are hazelnuts the ‘weird’ nut and are not even given a chance? They taste great to me, I like them the same here as in Europe. In fact, a couple of our customers who have traveled to Europe came back with a new taste for hazelnuts.

Hazelnuts have to be toasted just enough to give them a nice crunch. Ours are imported from Turkey and we toast them ourselves without any oils.  Hazelnut farming has been the chief form of livelihood around Black Sea and that’s where most hazelnuts come from.

Hazelnut Truffles

Tuscany and Hazelnut Truffles

As you may have known, nuts are good for you (not roasted in oil and salted though!) They are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, omega 3, and antioxidants.

Writing this post, I developed a craving for a dark chocolate hazelnut cluster, in my opinion, the best combination, pure and delicious! Give hazelnuts a chance….I will treat you to a sample in our store!

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