Oh nutella, let me count the ways I love you: 1. on a spoon, 2. on white sandwich bread with or without pb, 3. in crepes, 4. in milkshakes, 5. in chantilly (a.k.a. sweetened whipped cream.) I just learned from nutellausa.com that someone by the name of Mr. Pietro Ferrero invented nutella in Italy in the 1940s. Figures. Those Italians and their culinary contributions. From my brief internet perusing, it looks like nutella is actually a cousin of the Piedmontese specialty gianduja – milk chocolate mix with very finely ground hazelnuts. I know gianduja came about because of the relative abundance of hazelnuts and lack of cacao beans in Northern Italy as a way to stretch the chocolate. Maybe Mr. Ferrero’s nutella followed the same train of thought. Either way, chocolate and hazelnuts were clearly made for one another.
This dessert came about after a recent dinner at Sportello in Fort Point. We had a fantastic dinner – seared cauliflower with boccorones and a hamachi crudo to start, followed by scallops with fresh peas and Barbara Lynch’s famous bolognese. But the dessert just didn’t do it for me. We shared a sweet custardy polenta topped with nutella mouse and some sort of sable cookie I forget now. It was sweet on sweet on mush on mush, and I was maybe more disappointed than I should have been only because I chose it solely on the basis of one word: nutella.
For my nutella dessert I kept things pretty simple; I knew I needed something not too sweet to contrast with the way-sweet nutella, and I wanted a spoonable dessert because it would just be wrong to eat nutella off a fork. I decided to go with a pot de crème made with nice dark chocolate, cutting down on the sugar a bit to ensure a good contrast. The nutella chantilly tops the dark chocolate custard, made simply by melting together some nutella and heavy cream and then whipping it to soft peeks after it’s been chilled. Hazelnuts provide a little needed crunch. To make this dessert more sophisticated, you could easily replace the nutella with the aforementioned gianduja (same amount, same directions.) Serves 6.
Sidenote: I love how the folks at Nutella have recently tried to market it as something mothers should feed their kids for breakfast as part of a balanced meal – chock full of nuts and skim milk. Yeah ok, let’s not forget the SUGAR, oil, and mega calorie count. But hey, I’m not complaining, just laughing. Even the picture on the jar makes it look healthy – a pastoral kitchen scene with bread and milk. My own parents were wise enough to keep me sheltered from the world of nutella, but I discovered it all on my own at my best friend Lindsay’s house where we would eat nutella sandwiches for lunch as a treat. I’ve been hooked ever since. (Thanks, Lindsay.)
For the Chantilly
- 1/4 cup/50g nutella
- 1 ½ cups/300g heavy cream
For the Pots de Crème
Adapted from Bon Apetit
- 2 cups/400g heavy cream
- ½ cup/100g whole milk
- 5oz/140g semi sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Chopped toasted hazelnuts to serve
Make the Chantilly: Combine the nutella and the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally and heat until well combined. Transfer to a cool bowl and chill until very cold. When cold, whip using a handheld or stand mixer until soft peeks form. It’s best to serve the chantilly immediately, but you can also chill it until you’re ready. The cream will firm up a bit in the refrigerator because of the nutella, but you can just add a bit more liquid cream and whisk to soften it (new trick I learned coutesy John.)
Make the Pots de Crème: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. While the chantilly is cooling, combine the milk and cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate. Combine the yolks and the sugar in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Strain into a clean bowl. Evenly divide the custard between six ¾ cup ramekins or small oven safe bowls. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour water around them to come half way up the sides of the cups. Cover the whole thing with aluminum foil, poking several holes in the foil to let steam escape – this will help prevent the custards from overcooking. Bake until the custards are set, but the centers still move slightly when jiggled – about 35-40 minutes. Cool until very cold (at least 2-3 hours, or overnight) and then serve with the nutella chantilly and a sprinkling of chopped toasted hazelnuts.