I spent a year in France nearly eight years ago and while there, I saw a world of hazelnut-and-chocolate that I never knew existed. Aside from seeing the wonders of Nutella in its full European glory, chocolate flavoured with hazelnuts could be found in commercial candy bars, fine chocolate bars and chocolate shops all over the country. Having grown up in Canada, where peanut butter is the king of all nut-butters and just hearing the phrase 'chocolate-peanut butter' makes people instantly salivate, I had no idea that hazelnut was the revered nut in other parts of the world.
I recall grocery shopping during my first week in France and being hard-pressed to find a jar of peanut butter. But Nutella lined the shelves of grocery stores like nobody's business (and at a great price too compared to the high price of a jar of Nutella in Canada at the time). Also, Bueno, a candy-bar with a hazelnut filling, was being advertised non-stop and all the packaged gift chocolates seemed to be focused on hazelnut and praline fillings. There were no Reese Peanut Butter Cups and crunchy peanut fillings to be found!
The only problem has been access to reasonably priced hazelnuts. In the rural town where I now live, I could only find hazelnuts sold raw and in small bags. The roasting, shelling and grinding hardly seemed worth my time.
Finally, I hit the jackpot when Cacao Barry sent me a sample of the nicest hazelnut butter (or 'meat' as the package stated) that I have ever come across. It is dark in colour, rich in flavour and ground until perfectly smooth.
TOFFLEs - my signature product which normally has a cream-based milk chocolate centre inside of a rich, dark chocolate toffee. The hazelnut TOFFLE was delicious - as good as the original TOFFLE!
So if you are looking for hazelnut butter to add depth to your chocolate creations, check out Cacao Barry's pure hazelnut butter: http://www.cacao-barry.ca this website will enable you to search by your country and find a supplier in your area. If you are in America, they can be found on Twitter: @CacaoBarryUSA and in Canada, their Canadian sale team can be reached at: @CacaoBarry_CA.