Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Chocolate & Praline

Originally developed as a Valentine’s Day dessert, my hazelnut panna cotta is a lovely end to any dinner party. Panna cotta, which means “cooked cream” in Italian, is made from cream and milk with gelatin to set it, and is a blank slate for added flavor. Here, the classic hazelnut and chocolate combination makes for an elegant and outstanding treat. The panna cottas need a few hours to set up in the refrigerator, so make sure to budget in the time to chill.

Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Chocolate & Praline

Prep Time 30 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Originally developed as a Valentine's Day dessert, my hazelnut panna cotta is a lovely end to any dinner party. Panna cotta, which means "cooked cream" in Italian, is made from cream and milk with gelatin to set it, and is a blank slate for added flavor. Here, the classic hazelnut and chocolate combination makes for an elegant and outstanding treat. The panna cottas need a few hours to set up in the refrigerator, so make sure to budget in the time to chill.
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Course Dessert
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

For the panna cotta

  • 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and loose skins rubbed off
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, or use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Canola oil or other neutral oil for the ramekins

For the chocolate sauce:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the praline:

  • cup 75 grams superfine sugar
  • ¼ cup 50 grams toasted hazelnuts, loose skins rubbed off

Instructions
 

  • Coat four 6-ounce ramekins with oil and set aside.
  • Combine the gelatin and 2 tablespoons of water in a small dish and let soften.
  • Chop the hazelnuts and place in a saucepan with the sugar, cream and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then cover and remove from the heat. Let it steep for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and press on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the vanilla bean seeds, scraped from the pod, or vanilla extract.
  • Turn the heat back on to low and add the gelatin. Warm the mixture gently, stirring so that the gelatin dissolves, but do not let it come to a simmer. It should take just a few minutes for the gelatin to incorporate. Pour into the ramekins and refrigerate for at least four hours, and up to a day.
  • Meanwhile, make the praline. Place the hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, but not so hot that it is smoking, sprinkle the sugar over the nuts. Let the sugar melt, without stirring, and cook until it is an amber color. You can tilt and swirl the pan if the sugar isn’t melting evenly, but resist the urge to stir. Before the sugar darkens too much, pour the nuts out onto a parchment lined sheet or silicone baking mat. Let cool completely, then crush the nuts in a food processor coarsely, or chop finely.
  • Make the sauce just before serving. Heat the cream just to a simmer in a small saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two, then stir gently.
  • To serve, slide a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins and unmold the panna cotta onto the plates. If it is not sliding out evenly, dip the ramekin in a bowl of warm water to loosen it. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the praline, passing extra sauce and praline at the table.
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