If you’ve never attempted to make Panettone, I suggest you team up with a friend as it’s a daylong process. This was my first attempt and it turned out better than I could have hoped considering the fact that I modified three recipes to create something to call my own. For guidance and inspirations I turned to many sources: First I opened my Giorgio Locatelli cookbook to find that, although he dedicates two full pages to romanticize the art of Panettone making, he fails to offer a recipe. This made me hesitate. If a Michelin Star Chef leaves the Panettone making to the pros, why should I even attempt it? After looking through many recipes online and watching a few Panettone making videos my fear was gone and I was excited to get started. I decided not to try to recreated the classic Panettone but opted to make one with my favorite ingredients: chocolate and hazelnuts.
Chocolate and Hazelnuts Mini Panettoni
1/3 cup warm water
2 envelopes of active dry yeast (1 tablespoon in each envelope)
4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup warm milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, plus more for brushing over pannetone
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped in halves
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
12 mini paper panettoni molds
SPONGE: With a fork dissolve 1 envelope of yeast in 1/3 cup warm water in a bowl. Then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir to make a very loose dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
MILK MIXTURE: In another bowl, pour warm milk and sprinkle with remaining envelope of yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved, then let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
EGG MIXTURE: Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, salt, and vanilla. Whisk in MILK MIXTURE.
In a large bowl, beat butter and remaining 3 1/2 cups flour with a mixer on medium speed until mixture is crumbly. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add EGG MIXTURE. Raise speed to medium, and beat until smooth.
Add SPONGE, and beat on medium-high speed until dough is elastic and long strands form when it's stretched, about 5 minutes (It will still be very sticky). Stir in orange zest, hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Transfer to a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let dough stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and divide into 12 portions. Knead a few times, and shape into balls. Drop each ball into a paper panettone mold, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until dough reaches edge of mold, 30 to 45 minutes.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter. Cut an X in the top of each ball with a sharp knife and brush tops with butter.
Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and bake until tops are golden brown and rise above rims of molds, about 15 minutes. Transfer panettoni to a cooling rack. Enjoy at room temperature. Be sure that the breads have cooled completely before wrapping them, they can be stored for a couple of days.
To give the panettone as a gift, tie a red ribbon around it and make a bow. I gave mine away in Christmas paper bags. They can also be presented in a box or wrapped with clear cellophane.