Sometimes (actually pretty often) I eat Nutella out of the jar for breakfast. I'll eat it in pretty much any form. I've seen recipes for Nutella panna cotta, but I generally like pudding better than panna cotta, so I thought I'd try to come up with a pudding recipe. After two recent failed attempts at Nutella fudge, I know that Nutella scorches easily and loses its taste when heated too much. So I thought I'd try with good bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts instead -- a little more adult than Nutella, and less easy to scorch. —Arathi
Test Kitchen Notes
Arathi had us at Nutella. Of course, when we read past the recipe title and saw how she steeped the milk with freshly roasted hazelnuts and vanilla before making the base, and that she used Dorie Greenspan's blender method to ensure a velvety mouthfeel, we knew we were in the hands of a pudding expert. This is nursery food with a twist, and it truly tastes like Nutella -- only better. We couldn't resist stealing pinches of the vanilla milk-soaked hazelnuts after we strained them from the base, and we highly suggest you do the same. -A&M —The Editors
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool. When cool, put in a clean towel and rub vigorously to remove skins (you can also just use your fingers). It's okay if some skin is left on -- you're going to strain later.
Chop the cooled hazelnuts to a coarse crumb in a food processor.
Make the hazelnut-infused cream: Put the milk and half and half in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both the bean and seeds to the milk. Add the hazelnuts and heat to scalding over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until thick and pale yellow.
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Strain the milk-hazelnut mixture into the egg yolk mixture, half a cup at a time, whisking after each addition until you've added about a cup and a half. Then strain and whisk in the rest of the milk. Return to the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick and starts to bubble, about 3 minutes.
Strain the thickened custard into a clean bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate-butter mixture.
Optional, but highly recommended: Scrape the entire pudding into a blender or food processor and process for about 30 seconds, until silky-smooth. I learned this from Dorie Greenspan's pudding recipes, and it really gives the pudding a wonderful lightness.
Spoon the pudding into small ramekins or dessert cups, cover with plastic wrap and chill, overnight if possible. DO NOT eat it unchilled -- right after you make it the flavors will not have blended and will taste a little off.