This classic Italian dessert takes a delicious twist with the addition of chopped Hazelnuts and Baci! Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays…or any day!
One of my favorite snapshots of of Italy is the gondolas lined up along the edge of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. If you’ve ever traveled to Venice, then you are certainly familiar with the gondolas that dot the canals of this famous city. Gondoliers are a respected group in Venetian society, and rightfully so! To earn a gondolier’s license in Venice, you must study as an apprentice for hundreds of hours before passing an exam that tests both your language skills as well as your knowledge of Venetian history.
Laura and I totally bought Robbie a gondolier’s outfit when we were in Venice this past summer. We might not have canals in our town here in upstate New York, but at least Robbie can look the part!
While the gondola might be the most iconic form of water travel in Venice, water taxis are just as prevalent. Gondolas are the more romantic way to travel the Venitian waterways, but water taxis are more practical. These water taxis are essentially stylish motorboats adorned with highly polished mahogany wood. They’re impressive vessels…until they break down in the middle of the lagoon.
Early one afternoon on our trip to Venice, Laura, my mother and I hopped on a water taxi for the quick trip between the outlying islands of Murano and Burano. My mother and Laura were sitting in the cabin, and I was sitting on the bench at the back of the boat. That’s when I noticed some wisps of white smoke coming out from under the bench. Hmmm. The smoke increased, and I pointed it out to Laura. She then pointed it out to the driver who immediately killed the engine on the boat. There we were. Floating adrift in the middle of the Venetian lagoon.
Fortunately cell phones worked out there in the middle of the lagoon, and our driver called one of his friends who brought another water taxi over. We found ourselves in the rather unique situation of hopping from one boat to another in the middle of the Venetian Lagoon. I could say that we were recreating a scene from an action film, but in reality I was just hoping I didn’t drop my camera (or myself) in the water. As we pulled away in the new water taxi, our first driver was arranging to get towed back to shore. Crazy!
That night, we stopped in a restaurant near our hotel and relived our boat hopping adventure over a bottle of wine and an order of tiramisu. While tiramisu might seem like an iconic Italian dessert, its roots really only date back about 50 years to a restaurant located roughly 45 minutes north of Venice. Either way, tiramisu is one of my favorite Italian desserts! Not only does tiramisu feature rich flavors, but it’s an elegant dessert to serve to company.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu
As I did with this recent Pumpkin Tiramisu, I took a slight liberty with the traditional tiramisu flavors and made this Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu. I kept the espresso and custard flavors, but I substituted hazelnut liqueur for the rum. Oh, and I covered the top of this Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu with chopped hazelnuts and Baci Perugina. It’s a classic Italian dessert topped with a classic Italian chocolate. I wish I could put into words how delicious this tiramisu was! From the creamy custard filling to the crunchy hazelnuts and melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate Baci, this is pretty much my definition of the perfect dessert. (Ok, I think anything involving chocolate is perfect because, well, chocolate!)
You might remember that I have been a fan of Baci Perugina chocolates for a long, long time. I discovered these Italian treats way back in high school when I won a trip to Italy thanks to a Parade Magazine writing contest. I still remember stopping at a roadside snack bar and eating my first Baci. Years later, Baci remain one of my favorite chocolates!
If you’re never had a Baci, then you definitely need to try one. Baci feature a creamy hazelnut filling covered with a delicious dark chocolate. A whole hazelnut sits on top, and the combination of chocolate and hazelnut is simply magical!
If you’re looking for a unique and elegant dessert to serve during the holidays, keep this Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu in mind. (You might have to hunt down the mascarpone, although one of our larger grocery stores here in town usually keeps this Italian cream cheese in stock.) I also highly recommend picking up extra Baci. Each Baci is wrapped with a saying of love or friendship, so they make wonderful gifts to share with friends and family during the holidays. (And, yes, it is possible to share Baci with yourself…I do each and every afternoon!)
I hope you enjoy this Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu as much as we do! If you make this one at home, leave a comment and let me know what you think. Or better yet, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). Cheers, friends!
Looking for more chocolate + hazelnut desserts? Check these out!
Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- 32 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee
- 2 Tbsp hazelnut liqueur can substitute with another 2 Tbsp of espresso
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 crisp ladyfingers savoiardi
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ cup hazelnuts lightly toasted
- 12-15 Baci chocolates chopped
- Line a small loaf pan (9”x5”) with plastic wrap, leaving a 3” overhang on all sides; set pan aside.
- Using a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and sugar. Place bowl over a gently simmering saucepan (do not let bottom of bowl touch water). Cook, stirring often, for 10-12 minutes, or until custard reaches 170°F.
- Meanwhile, prepare a larger bowl of ice water. (The bowl should be large enough for the smaller heatproof bowl to fit into.)
- Remove bowl with custard from heat and set into bowl with ice water. Stir custard for 1-2 minutes, or until cool.
- In a separate bowl, add mascarpone cheese. Fold the cooled custard into the mascarpone until mixture is smooth.
- Pour the coffee, hazelnut liqueur and vanilla into a shallow bowl. One at a time, dip the ladyfingers in the mixture until soaked but not soggy. Lay 2 rows of 4 ladyfingers lengthwise into bottom of prepared pan. Spread ½ of the custard mixture over the ladyfingers.
- Repeat process with a second layer of ladyfingers (arranged widthwise across pan) and remaining custard.
- Dust top of custard with cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Uncover and lay plate upside down on top of tiramisu. Invert plate and carefully lift pan off. Peel off plastic wrap.
- Prior to serving, garnish top of tiramisu with cocoa powder, chopped hazelnuts and Baci chocolates.
Disclosure: This Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu post was sponsored by Baci Perugina, but the recipe and opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!