Heavy Cream Custard with Hazelnuts

Panna Cotta con le Nocciole

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 6

    hazelnut custards

Appears in

Marcella Cucina

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1997

  • About

I learned how to make this version of panna cotta from one of Piedmont’s gifted young cooks, Walter Ferretto of Cascinale Nuovo, the superb restaurant on the main road that leads from Asti to Alba. If you compare it with the basic recipe that precedes this one, you will see that the procedure is identical, but for one thing. This one contains a cream of toasted hazelnuts, the most delectable of nuts. If you liked the plain panna cotta, you may find this one, as I do, even more delicious.


  • 8 ounces whole shelled hazelnuts
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • -ounce envelope gelatin plus 1 teaspoon

For the Caramel

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water

6 custard ramekins


  1. Turn on the oven to 400°F.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and put them in the uppermost level of the preheated oven. If they have already been skinned, toast them briefly, about 7 or 8 minutes. If they still have their skin on, toast them longer, for about 30 minutes, turning them once or twice; then put them into a wire strainer and chafe away most of the skin by rubbing the nuts against the sides of the strainer.
  3. Put the hazelnuts in a food processor with 1 cup granulated sugar and chop to the creamiest possible consistency.
  4. Put the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and milk in a saucepan, turn the heat on to medium high, and stir steadily.
  5. Remove the pan from heat the moment its contents begin to bubble, before they start to boil. Continue stirring, and as you do so, drizzle in all the gelatin. Stir for 5 minutes, then empty the pan into a bowl.
  6. Add the pureed hazelnuts, stirring them thoroughly to keep them from forming lumps. Let the mixture cool, giving it an occasional stir.
  7. Make a caramel by putting 1 cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup water into a small, preferably lightweight, saucepan. Melt the sugar over medium high heat without stirring it, but tilt the pan occasionally. When the melted sugar becomes colored a dark brown, pour it into the ramekins, tipping them just enough to distribute the caramel evenly on their bottom.
  8. When the hazelnut and cream mixture has cooled down completely to room temperature, stir it thoroughly one last time, then pour it into the ramekins. Refrigerate overnight.
  9. When ready to serve, bring water to a simmer in a small skillet. Loosen the custard from the sides of the ramekin using a knife blade. Put the ramekin bottom down in the skillet for 1 or 2 seconds, then turn it over onto an individual serving plate, shake to unmold the custard, and serve. If there is caramel left in the ramekin and you’d like it on the custard, put a teaspoon of the simmering water into the ramekin to loosen the caramel so that you can pour it easily.