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jul 18, 2017

Meet ‘Castella’, the Brazilian Nutella every bit as regal as its name


As the popularity of Brazil nuts grows steadily, one Brazilian entrepreneur had a new idea about how to use the nut

Nutella has long been the world’s most popular option when it comes to chocolate spreads. Brazil is no exception to this trend, plastering spoonfuls of the hazelnut-and-chocolate cream on top of tapiocas and cakes alike. But thanks to entrepreneur Fabio Sicilia, Brazil could be about to gain its own, tropical take on Nutella.

Sicilia has been running a restaurant with his family since they arrived in Brazil from Italy a generation ago. Restaurants have always been in the family, but Sicilia’s training as a chemical engineer and a chef helped him come up with a new product for the restaurant.

After he returned from his chef training in Piedmont, Italy, Sicilia became enchanted by Brazil’s natural ingredients. “I was delighted with the physalis fruit, known in Brazil as camapu, and with the versatility of cocoa,” he told O Globo’s business magazine. After forming his own chocolate company, Sicilia turned his attention to his region’s other natural culinary resources. That’s how he came up with Castella, made using Brazil nuts and local chocolate from Belém where the family’s restaurant is based.

Peeling the Brazil nuts and lightly toasting them whole before grinding them down and mixing them with the chocolate, Sicila managed to create a Brazilian version of Nutella. He started by serving it with the family’s desserts at the restaurant, but is now launching it as a standalone product. Carrying hardly any sugar thanks to the nut’s natural sweetness, fans can purchase the spread from Sicilia’s website, Gaudens.

Castella offers a few more advantages over Nutella on top of a lack of added sugars. Sicilia’s product offers a spread free from additives and preservatives, but its base is what truly gives it selling potential. Brazil nuts are rich in minerals like selenium and potassium, as well as high in fiber. It also carries a whole host of vitamins, including vitamin E. Like avocados, it’s high in natural fats – meaning it translates easily to the creamy texture Castella demands.

But the potential nutritional benefits of Castella aren’t its only selling point. Brazil is one of the largest global producers of Brazil nuts, providing a whopping 35 percent of the global demand. Due to the nut’s popularity, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) recently oversaw more than $30 million in trade deals around the nut – meaning that Castella truly has potential to gain a slice of the international market.

For Sicilia, this isn’t necessarily his aim. His sister Angela takes care of the family restaurant, while he is able to pursue interests that compliment this – namely, experimenting endlessly with different foods. “We are already producing a version of the spread with cashew nuts and we want to release it soon,” he told the magazine. For now, though, chocolate lovers hankering after something sweet might choose Nutella’s healthier sibling, available via the Gaudens website.