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—Sarah Boyum

Magic Ingredient: Gianduja

Get ready to obsess over the original Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread—Nutella before Nutella was cool.

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Even if you’ve never heard of gianduja (pronounced john-DOO-yah), you’ve probably tasted it. Gianduja is the Italian term for the soft, smooth combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. Or, as Adam Knickerbocker, general manager of the Plimoth puts it, “the original Nutella before there was Nutella.” In its purest form, gianduja should be pliable and velvety, and it should nearly melt when set on your tongue. But it can also be solid or spreadable, and it lends itself well to a slew of different desserts. Here, four places to jump-start your gianduja habit.

Spuntino

Gianduja Board

When pastry queen (and gianduja aficionada) Yasmin Lozada-Hissom sold Spuntino last year, her absence was felt in the Denver dessert scene. But Cindhura Reddy and Elliot Strathmann, the husband-and-wife team that took over, are ensuring the final course isn’t an afterthought. Their gianduja spread—made with semisweet Valrhona chocolate, hazelnuts, and Maldon sea salt—is heavenly on griddled brioche points.

Vesta Dipping Grill

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Vesta’s take on the gianduja trend combines a crunchy, tart shell with the creamy, familiar flavor of Nutella. Bonus: The toasted marshmallow brings a fluffy lightness to the otherwise dense and rich dessert.

The Plimoth

Gianduja Pot de Crème

The Plimoth’s rotating pots de crème are always delicious, but none more so than the chocolate-hazelnut concoction topped with crème chantilly and candied hazelnuts. Thick, silky, and rich, the hazelnut gives the chocolate a nutty flavor without taking it to sugar-coma territory.

Yours Truly Cupcake

Gianduja Cube

Gianduja simultaneously feels refined and comfortingly familiar. That dichotomy comes together in Yours Truly Cupcake’s gianduja cubes. The bite-size, layered treats combine the creaminess of the spread with the crispness of a nutty dacquoise. Take note: Yours Truly Cupcake is both a walk-up window and a baked-to-order (minimum purchase of two dozen) catering company.

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