HomeRecipesGluten-free Hazelnut Chocolate Panna Cotta Caramel Tart by Simona Pozzetto

Gluten-free Hazelnut Chocolate Panna Cotta Caramel Tart by Simona Pozzetto

Since becoming gluten-free in 2010, I have tried to recreate classic desserts that are as close as possible to how I remembered them, so that I wouldn’t feel that I was missing out on anything. In the last couple of years, though, I have been feeling more adventurous and have experimented with new combinations of flavors, textures and pastry techniques. The inspiration for this tart comes from one of these experiments. Growing up in Italy, tarts were a staple in our home, and I wanted to pay a tribute to my country while filling the pâte sucrèe with some fun: flavorful hazelnut frangipane with a few hazelnuts for crunch to remind me of the wonderful nuts we produce in Italy; smooth chocolate panna cotta as a surprisingly cool layer in honor of the typical Italian dessert; and luscious caramel cream and caramelized hazelnuts to bind the flavors together and enhance their depth. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I created it.

Yield: 10 servings

Simona’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • 1080 g superfine white rice flour
  • 576 g potato starch
  • 270 g superfine sweet rice flour
  • 180 g modified tapioca starch
  • 18 g xanthan gum

1. Blend together all ingredients.

Pâte Sucrée

  • 75 g unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 60 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 35 g whole egg mixed with egg yolk (mix 1 egg with 1 yolk and then measure 35 g)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300 g Simona’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix
  • 30 g almond flour

1. Cream the butter, salt and confectioners’ sugar. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flours and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (177˚C). Grease a 10ʺ (25 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom and line the bottom with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the refrigerated dough to 1/4ʺ (0.6 cm) thickness. Gently ease the dough into the pan. Make sure that the dough reaches the edge. Prick the bottom and freeze while preparing the frangipane.

Hazelnut Frangipane

  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g whole egg
  • 18 g egg yolk
  • 30 g Simona’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix
  • 100 g hazelnut meal
  • 15 g rum
  • Hazelnuts, roasted (about 20)

1. Cream the butter, salt and sugar.

2. In another bowl, beat the egg and yolk with a fork and then add them to the butter mixture.  Lastly incorporate the flour mix, hazelnut flour and the rum. Mix until smooth.

3. Remove the tart from the freezer and spread the frangipane evenly in it. Place the 20 hazelnuts randomly in the frangipane. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the frangipane is firm to the touch. Let it cool on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

  • 8 g powdered gelatin (250 bloom)
  • 500 g heavy cream
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Bloom the gelatin in cold water for at least 5 minutes.

2. Pour the cream into a saucepan together with the sugar and vanilla extract. Heat to boiling point. While the cream is heating up, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, stirring until smooth.

3. Filter the cream by passing it through a fine-mesh strainer and slowly add it to the melted dark chocolate, stirring with a whisk. Pour back into the saucepan, and heat over low heat, stirring to avoid lumps. Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 30 seconds and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until combined.

4. Remove from the heat and pass through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap making sure it touches the top of the panna cotta, so it doesn’t develop a skin. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes.

5. Pour the panna cotta in the tart shell, over the frangipane, almost to the brim – you might have some left over. Refrigerate for at least four hours, until set.

Caramel Cream

  • 3 g powdered gelatin (250 bloom)
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g heavy cream
  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 240 g mascarpone cheese

1. Bloom the gelatin in cold water for at least 5 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar. Watching very closely, allow the sugar to melt. As it becomes liquid, sprinkle more granulated sugar over the melting sugar until it has all been added. The sugar will begin to caramelize very quickly once it melts. You can turn the heat down to slow the process down. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as your caramelized sugar has reached its desired color. Add the cream carefully, because it will splatter. Bring the pan back on the heat until the caramel sauce becomes smooth. Add the butter util incorporated.  Remove from the heat.

3. Melt the bloomed gelatin in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add to the caramel sauce. Wait until the sauce reaches 180˚F (82˚C), then add the mascarpone. Mix well, pour in a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Caramelized Hazelnuts

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 50 g roasted hazelnuts

1. Prepare the caramel by melting the sugar over medium-low heat until it turns amber yellow, the same way you did earlier for the caramel cream.  Meanwhile, insert toothpicks into 10 hazelnuts. Set aside.

2. Once the caramel is ready, dip the hazelnuts in it and then hang  them and let them dry (I used a piece of cardboard hanging over the counter, and inserted them upside-down). One cooled, remove from the toothpicks and set aside. Let the remaining caramel drop onto parchment paper, to form little rounds, and let them cool.


1. Unmold the cooled tart, and place onto a serving plate.

2. Remove the Caramel Cream from the refrigerator and using a double boiler, warm it while whisking vigorously, until it reaches the consistency of buttercream. Place into piping bags, one with a round tip, one with a star tip, and decorate the top of the tart. Place the caramelized hazelnuts decoratively on top of the tart, and carefully place the caramel dots at the center of the stars. Serve at room temperature.

(This recipe appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

About Simona Pozzetto

Simona Pozzetto is a gluten-free professional baker and instructor at Simona Gluten-Free. Growing up in Milan, Italy, surrounded by the smells and flavors of her mother and paternal grandmother’s cooking, Simona has developed a sweet tooth and an early interest in baking and pastry. She tends to favor simplicity in her style, experiments with different textures, and has recently become more daring in her flavor combinations.

Pastry Arts Magazine is the new resource for pastry & baking professionals designed to inspire, educate and connect the pastry community as an informational conduit spotlighting the trade.