Gianduja – where does the name of this chocolate come from?

Giandujas Leonidas posés sur un petit plateau

Gianduja is a delicacy that originated in Italy. It’s made from chocolate, hazelnuts and icing sugar. Its name, which can be spelled Gianduja or Gianduia, should be pronounced as ‘djann-dou-ya’, though what you usually hear is ‘djann-dou-ja’… But we say: forget the pronunciation, just savour the flavour! At Leonidas, we offer you Gianduja original as well as two related products: Giantina and Giamanda, our three famous chocolate Gias.

Gianduja, the chocolate with the unpronounceable name

Why make it simple when you can make it complicated? At the start of the 19th century in Italy, the commedia dell'arte was enriched with a new character: Gianduia. The inspiration was the nickname of a bon vivant bourgeois who loved wine: in French he was known as ‘Gioan d'la douja’ or ‘Jean de la chope’. This character quickly became the emblem of Turin, the capital of Piedmont, then part of the Napoleonic Empire.

At the same time, Napoleon Bonaparte was aiming to weaken the United Kingdom. He instigated the Continental Block which prohibited England and its colonies from trading with the rest of Europe. This was bad news for chocolate makers, because cocoa beans became scarce and very expensive.

But the people of Piedmont were an inventive lot. Theirs was a region brimming with hazelnuts. So they decided to create a new delicacy made from hazelnut cream and chocolate. They named their creation after the puppet that symbolises their town. And although the letter ‘J’ doesn’t exist in Italian, they added it to the name of their Gianduja chocolate, either because of regional pride, or simply by accident!

This hazelnut chocolate has retained its name ever since, despite it being unpronounceable, especially for French speakers… but happily, its unparalleled delicious taste has never changed!

Praline gianduja Leonidas de profil

The secret of the Gianduja recipe

To make Gianduja, you need one third hazelnuts, one third icing sugar and one third milk chocolate. Roast the hazelnuts in the oven the day before at 160°C for 15 minutes, then remove the skin. Leave to rest for one day to allow their flavour to develop.

In a food processor, blend the hazelnuts and icing sugar to a smooth paste. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and add to the paste. Pour the mix into small silicone moulds and place in the refrigerator. Your Giandujas will be ready to enjoy a few hours later!

No patience and no Master Chocolatier? Fortunately for you, Leonidas, your favourite Belgian chocolate provider makes delicious Giandujas.

Comptoir de boutique Leonidas rempli de Giamandas

Gianduja, Giantina, Giamanda: Leonidas’ 3 Gias

For your ultimate enjoyment, the Leonidas Master Chocolatiers create creamy, melt-in-the-mouth Gianduja wrapped in gold foil. Like all the Belgian chocolates that leave our workshops, these chocolates are made with 100% pure cocoa butter and premium quality hazelnuts from Turkey.

To multiply the sensations, our talented creators have come up with two additional chocolates based on the principle of the Gianduja: the Giantina in copper foil and the Giamanda in silver foil.

The Giantina is a blend of praliné with fragments of biscuit and heavenly crunchy feuilletine. The Giamanda is enriched with caramelised Californian almonds. Discover the 3 Gias in our ballotins or our Gianduja Gold Bar. Which will be your favourite?


Is it time you tasted our Gianduja, the chocolate with the unpronounceable name? Head to your nearest Leonidas shop now! You can also order online via our e-shop.