THERE are lots of foods and flavours that we think of when we think of Italian cuisine. Rich tomato sauces covering pasta dishes, fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean, the strong aroma of espresso, desserts made with sweet ricotta cheese...

But if there is one food - something that can be used for a variety of purposes or enjoyed as it is, loved by kids and adults alike - that is quintessentially Italian, it is a good, old-fashioned jar of Nutella.

Nutella was invented in Italy, and unlike most of the food origin stories I share with you, we do not have to travel back too far into the past for this one.

For once, I have the confirmed, official origin of the recipe - no urban legends or religious tales, no kings or emperors, just a simple beginning for an Italian family food cupboard staple.

Nutella was the creation of Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker from Piedmont in Italy, who founded the Ferrero Company in May 1946. First he created Giandujot - a sweet paste made from hazelnuts, sugar and cocoa. He made it into a loaf that could be sliced then served on bread, and Ferrero named it ‘Giandujot’ after a local carnival character.

Not long after, Ferrero transformed Giandujot into something called SuperCrema - a precursor to Nutella - which could be more easily spread onto bread.

In 1951 it was Pietro Ferrero’s son, Michele, who used a trial and error process to refine the recipe, eventually creating the first ever jar of a new hazelnut and cocoa cream which he went on to christen Nutella.

The spread went from strength to strength, as the iconic shaped jars went on to become a huge hit across Europe, first landing in Germany before moving on to France. It was only a matter of time before Nutella reached Australia, taking the world by storm.

Nutella became so popular that February 5 was dubbed World Nutella Day.

Nutella is a versatile food that can be used in the preparation of many dishes, as well as enjoyed on its own or simply spread on bread of Italian toast wheat crackers.

Nutella will typically be eaten for breakfast in Italy, but when used an ingredient it will be more commonly used in desserts. It can be used to fill doughnuts, bake cakes, make cheesecakes, in ice-cream, in tarts, in biscuits.

My recipe is for chocolate hazelnut truffles and can be made using shop-bought chocolate spread, but if you are feeling creative, I am sharing a recipe for making your own chocolate hazelnut spread.