Special equipment: 8-inch square baking pan
1 cup (5 ounces) raw hazelnuts (also called filberts)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 – 65%) finely chopped
3 ounces (38 – 50% ) dark milk chocolate finely chopped
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) hazelnut paste, at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Place the hazelnuts on a jelly-roll pan and toast in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skins split and the nuts are light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the hazelnuts into a towel. Wrap the towel around the hazelnuts and rub them together to remove most of the skins. Place the hazelnuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and chop finely.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with waxed paper that hangs over the edges.
Melt 5 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate and the dark milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water, stirring often with a rubber spatula to melt evenly. Or melt the chocolates in a microwave oven on low power for 30 second bursts, stirring between each burst.
Remove the top pan of the double boiler, if using, and wipe the bottom and sides of the pan dry. Stir in the remaining ounce of chocolate in 3 stages, making sure each batch is melted before adding the next.
When the chocolate is completely blended, add the hazelnut paste and the chopped hazelnuts and stir to blend together thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to the lined pan, spreading it evenly into the corners. Lightly tap the pan on the counter top to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Lift the candy from the pan by holding the waxed paper then peel the waxed paper away from the candy. On a cutting board use a large chef’s knife to cut the gianduja into 8 rows in each direction, forming squares. Serve the squares at room temperature.
Store the squares between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator, away from strongly-flavored food, up to 2 weeks. To freeze for up to 3 months wrap the container in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Use a large piece of masking tape and an indelible marker to label and date the contents. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
Making a Change
Replace the bittersweet chocolate and dark milk chocolate with an equal amount of gianduia chocolate.
The gianduia mixture can be kept in the square baking pan, tightly covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator, away from strongly-flavored food, up to 2 weeks. Cut the candy into squares before serving.
The toasted hazelnuts and the hazelnut paste can be made in advance and kept in tightly covered containers in the refrigerator up to a month. Bring them to room temperature before using.
Adapted from Intensely Chocolate: 100 scrumptious recipes for true chocolate lovers
by Carole Bloom. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.