Located in the northwest corner of Italy, and isolated from most of Europe by the Alps, is the region of Piedmont.
For centuries, residents of the hills of Piedmont would journey into the woods each autumn to gather hazelnuts, which flourish here due to the ideal climate and topography of the region. They would then dry and roast the nuts, using them as a key part of their diet all year round.
Torta di Nocciole, like many old-school Italian recipes, is based on “cucina povera,” a concept that we often feature in Libellula dishes. “Cucina Povera” is Italy’s “poor cooking” method, where peasants created inventive (and delicious!) recipes born out of necessity.
Due to the exorbitant prices of flour in the 1800s, the Piedmontese were forced to stop baking cakes. As Christmas approached, however, this became a critical issue.
Cakes were a key element in the region’s festivities, and an Italian Christmas without cake would be a true travesty! So the bakers of the small town of Coremilia put their heads together to try and come up with a tasty solution…
After much experimentation, their substitution for flour was an ingredient that was right under their nose: hazelnuts.
Needless to say, the cake successfully saved Christmas! Torta di Nocciole then quickly spread in popularity throughout the region. Almost every village or town soon had its own, distinct recipe.
And now the Libellula family has their own! :)