On a July, 2023, telephone conversation, Roberto Bava from Piemonte, asked if I knew what the world’s smallest cookie was. I did not know. He replied: “the Nocciolini di Chivasso.” These have made Chivasso, outside of Torino, world famous. So, on my last trip to Italy, I went to see them. They are definitely small and delicious. They are ½ inch in diameter and crunchy like an amaretto cookie made out of bitter almonds. They are also a PDO product, with a Protected Denomination of Origin, made from only three ingredients: Tonda Gentile Piemonte hazelnuts, sugar and eggwhite. Their history is slightly convoluted--we are in Italy after all and their history is said to begin in 1810. But they were made famous at the first of the great International Exhibitions where they were given medals for quality. The recipe now belongs to Chivasso city and there are only four producers. The Bonfante pastry shop is the largest and most famous of them.
They are made from a batter created with the toasting and peeling of the hazelnuts; their grinding with sugar and then the addition of beaten egg white. This batter is then sent through an ingenious machine which extrudes the batter in drops onto a paper baking sheet. Left to then dry slightly, they are baked until crisp and then removed from their paper.
Curiously, before the Fascist period in Italy in the 1920s, the Nocciolini were called either Noisettes, as in French for hazelnut or Noasetti or Nuasèt, the acoustical equivalent of the same in Piemontese dialect. But in that period, all foreign terms had to be Italianized, hence “hotel” became “albergo,” “menu” became “lista.” Bonfante Nocciolini are packed in the traditional pink colored bag which symbolizes Nocciolini. The other producers use the same color. Nocciolini are really small. Two cookies are about the size of a normal hazelnut and should be eaten by the handful. Not particularly sweet tasting due to the hazelnut intensity, they are a dry cookie with a very pleasant hazelnut flavor. If you can imagine eating a cookie as if it were a hazelnut, you understand Nocciolini di Chivasso. Served with a glass of vermouth, in particular a Vermouth Bianco, they would not be out of place. Moscato d’Asti washes them down very well, Caluso Passito is another dessert wine that is traditional with Nocciolini. Topping really good gelato with them is traditional as well as serving with zabaione, the fluffy egg yolk, sugar, and Marsala foam.
I think, once tried, you will come up with even more combinations for these smallest cookies in the world.
NOCCIOLINI DI CHIVASSO: The world’s small cookie 100g