Another December and another fabulous gift-a box of books from my good friend J. I’m like a kid at Christmas anticipating the arrival of the box. I love to read and there’s usually a selection of novels, some of which haven’t even been published yet. Lurking at the bottom of the box tied up in big, fat strands of silky ribbon lies the real treasure-all the latest cookbooks. One by one I lift them up and hope that they aren’t already sitting on my overcrowded bookshelf. I carry them upstairs and savor each as I read them cover to cover.
This year there’s a clear winner for my favorite-The Craft Of Baking by Karen De Masco and Mindy Fox. Karen was the pastry chef for a few of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants (Craft and Craftbar and ‘wichcraft). The recipes are well written and not overly complicated. Immediately I began making my list of which recipes to try first. Right there on the top of the list was Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta. My two favorite flavors right there in one easy recipe that used Nutella, the famous Italian spread loved by adults and children alike.
Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta
1-1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons cold water.
Put the Nutella and salt in another medium mixing bowl and set it aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and vanilla to a boil. Pour 1/3 of the hot cream over the gelatin and whisk well. Then pour the gelatin mixture back into the remaining cream.
Pour about 1/3 of the cream mixture over the Nutella. Whisk well to form a smooth paste. Add the remaining cream mixture and whisk well to combine. Whisk in the milk.
Stain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and then divide it among eight ramekins, glasses or cups. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Once set, the panna cotta can be kept, covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. They can be served in the ramekins, or dipped in hot water and unmolded on to a plate and served.