Welcome to this mouth-watering white chocolate & hazelnut panna cotta recipe that’s perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth!
This delightful dessert is not only quick and easy to make, but it’s also a sure-fire hit for dinner parties or just a simple indulgence at home.
The combination of creamy white chocolate, chocolatey Nutella, and crunchy hazelnuts is irresistible.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to a meal like lasagna or a delicious dessert for a meal like stuffed shells.
Before diving into this delicious white chocolate panna cotta recipe, let’s get acquainted with the key ingredients that make this dessert so heavenly.
- Thickened cream: Adds a rich, creamy texture to the panna cotta, making it smooth and luscious.
- Milk: Combined with the cream, this creates the perfect balance for your panna cotta base. Half-fat or whole milk is fine to use.
- Caster sugar: Sweetens the dessert without making it overly sweet, and enhances the flavor of the white chocolate.
- White chocolate: Fine shavings will melt seamlessly into your panna cotta mixture, giving it a subtle and delicious flavor. Save some to use for a garnish to give it an elegant finish.
- Powdered gelatine: helps the panna cotta set and achieve its iconic, slightly wobbly texture. You can use gelatin powder or gelatin leaves. In general, one teaspoon of gelatin powder is equivalent to 2 gelatin leaves.
- Dry-roasted hazelnuts: Chopped and mixed with the chocolate hazelnut spread, these add a delightful crunch to the dessert. You can use any nuts you have on hand.
- Chocolate hazelnut spread (i.e. Nutella): This adds an irresistible darker chocolatey surprise to the bottom of your dessert.
Get ready to recreate this mouthwatering white chocolate & hazelnut panna cotta with these easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1: Prep the panna cotta
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and caster sugar and warm it over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes.
When it’s almost simmering (don’t let it boil!), remove the saucepan from the heat and rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers. If you feel any grit, the sugar isn’t fully dissolved yet, and it needs more gentle heating.
If the mixture is smooth, add the finely chopped white chocolate. Stir until fully melted.
Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle in the powdered gelatine. Whisk until the gelatine is dissolved, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
It’s important to get the gelatine well spread out so the panna cotta sets evenly.
Hint: keep an eye on the heat and stir frequently to avoid scorching the milk and cream. You also don’t want to let a skin form because this will leave you with lumps.
Step 2: Prep the hazelnut layer
While the mixture is cooling, stir the chopped hazelnuts into your chocolate spread.
Then spread the mixture into the bottom of your serving bowl, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.
Hint: melt the chocolate spread in the microwave for a few seconds for easy spreading, being careful not to burn it. A thick spread will be really hard to make a smooth layer.
Step 4: Assemble the panna cotta
Carefully pour the cream mixture on top of the chocolate layer and then cover the bowls with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to set for 4 hours.
Remove the panna cotta from the fridge 10 minutes before serving and decorate with a touch of shaved white chocolate.
To get a 5* looking finish, use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to create delicate white chocolate shavings.
How to tell if your panna cotta is set
Panna cotta has a slightly wobbly texture when it’s properly set, it should quiver when you touch it.
To check if your panna cotta is ready, follow these simple steps:
- Give it time: make sure you’ve allowed enough time for the panna cotta to set. It usually takes at least 4 hours in the fridge, but I generally leave it overnight if I can.
- The jiggle test: gently shake the ramekin or mold. The panna cotta should jiggle slightly but still hold its shape. If it appears too liquid or moves too much, it needs more time to set.
- The touch test: lightly press the surface of the panna cotta. It should feel firm yet slightly springy to the touch. Your finger shouldn’t leave a lasting impression.
What if my panna cotta isn’t setting?
If your panna cotta doesn’t seem to be setting even after ages in the fridge, you’ve got a problem with the gelatin or proportions of other ingredients.
Double-check the recipe and make sure you’ve followed the instructions correctly.
If you don’t think you added enough gelatin, you can try to fix it by gently reheating the mixture in a saucepan over low heat until it’s liquid again.
Then, add a small amount of extra gelatin and pour the mixture back into the molds. Place it in the fridge and hope it sets this time!
Another potential issue is that the gelatin wasn’t fully dissolved, so the panna cotta looks grainy and watery. You can fix this by reheating the mixture and whisking the gelatin in properly, then resetting.
To make the panna cotta dairy free, you can replace the milk and cream with coconut milk or almond milk and use dairy-free white chocolate.
Make sure to check the chocolate hazelnut spread for dairy too!
You may need to adjust the amount of gelatin you use with the substitutes, but I haven’t tested them, so can’t tell you the exact measurements.
It will require a little trial and error on your part.
To make it completely vegan-friendly, you’ll also need to swap the gelatin for a vegan alternative like agar agar. You will need to use about half the amount of agar agar.
- Dark chocolate panna cotta: Swap out the white chocolate for dark chocolate and use a dark chocolate spread for a richer, more intense flavor.
- Fruit-infused panna cotta: Add a layer of fruit puree, such as raspberry, blueberry, or mango, between the chocolate spread and the white chocolate mixture for a burst of fruity flavor. You can also drizzle it over the panna cotta for decoration.
- Nut-free version: Omit the hazelnuts and replace the Nutella with a smooth chocolate spread or a seed-based alternative like sunflower seed butter mixed with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.
- Espresso panna cotta: Add a shot of cooled espresso to the cream and milk mixture for a coffee-infused twist. Coffee lovers will really enjoy this.
- Spiced panna cotta: Infuse the milk and cream mixture with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg for a warm, fragrant touch. I love doing this around christmas time.
- Biscoff panna cotta: Swap out the Nutella for Biscoff. If you want to be super fancy, try making my homemade Biscoff spread. It’s so much more delicious than the store-bought stuff!
Bonus: I’m such a big fan of this coconut and passion fruit panna cotta. It’s a must-try!
To store panna cotta, cover the individual serving bowls with plastic wrap or transfer the panna cotta to an airtight container. Store it in the fridge for 3-4 days and take the panna cotta out around 10 minutes before serving.
I don’t recommend freezing panna cotta, some sources online say you can, but in my tests, the panna cotta ends up with a grainy texture when you defrost it.
The grainy texture is from ice crystals that form when it’s freezing.
White Chocolate And Hazelnut Panna Cotta
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 25 g white chocolate finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
- 2-3 tablespoons dry-roasted hazelnuts chopped
- 1/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread see note
- 25 g white chocolate shaved
- Place cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until almost simmering (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add 25g finely chopped white chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl. Sprinkle over gelatine. Whisk to dissolve gelatine. Cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir chopped hazelnuts (add more or less depending on how chunky you’d like it) through chocolate hazelnut spread. Spread 1 tablespoon of spread onto the bottom of 4 100ml-capacity serving bowls. Smooth top.
- Carefully pour cream mixture, over the back of a metal teaspoon, into each glass. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
- Remove from refrigerator 10 minutes before serving. Decorate with remaining 25g shaved white chocolate. Serve immediately.