The Remarkably Versatile Hazelnut
Having spent some time learning about hazelnuts and how they are used here by our chefs at Hill St., I quickly noticed how their culinary versatility is vital across all areas of our production. Just like our Bean-to-Bar chocolate, there is also a story to be told behind the journey of the hazelnut, from the Italian field in which they grow all the way into our labs and, as a consequence, into an abundance of our recipes.
Both the hazelnut and its tree have several symbolic connotations, ranging from the Ancient Roman belief that it brought happiness when the branches of a hazelnut tree were given as a gift, to being considered a Germanic symbol of fertility. Throughout my own research I often found this nut referred to as the ‘fruit of happiness’ which I think perfectly captures the essence of its popularity.
Whilst the majority of our ingredients are locally sourced, when we do require anything from further afield, we maintain our ambition of finding quality produce from suppliers who share a similar like-mindedness for sustainability and perfection. This is why we work with Cascina Barroero – a farm producing hazelnuts in the Piedmont Region of Italy. Just like us, they are a small family-owned business who work hard to grow, maintain and process hazelnuts until they are ready to be used in creations like ours. This is why we chose them for our hazelnuts; our Directors even had a chance to visit their farm a couple of years back. Here at Hill St. we are able to roast and caramelise the hazelnuts from Cascina Barroero, or even create a paste for the praline, allowing us to create products like Rocher’s, Nougat and even our new Hill St Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I would highly recommend having a look at the Cascina Barroero website for an insight to their beautiful family story and the experiences they have to offer on their farm and pastry shop - which was founded in 1957, making it the oldest part of the company.
Without this becoming too much of a ‘love letter to hazelnuts’ I think it would be best to simply try them yourself. Included in plenty of our chocolates and confectionery, (and our Nutyella gelato or French patisserie selection, both available for customers in the Hill St. Lounge) it seems fair to say you won’t be stuck for choice!