Like most Italians, Fortunato Nicotra’s passion for food began at an early age, and the rich environment of his childhood in Turin was the earliest influence for a career in the culinary arts. Everyone drinks bicerin in Turin, especially on winter mornings or during the merende (mid-afternoon) break. “The drink is a meeting of two powerful ingredients,” says the chef,”and neither is shy about its flavor.”
6 ounces whole milk
3 ounces Gianduja or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or shaved
pinch of salt
8 ounces espresso or very strong coffee
Whipped cream, lightly sweetened
To make the hot chocolate, heat the milk slowly in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until steaming. Be careful not to scorch it. Add the chopped chocolate and salt to the steaming milk. Stir slowly over low heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat.
To assemble the bicerin, use 4 tempered short-stemmed glasses and pour 2 ounces of hot, freshly pulled espresso into each. Next, create a separate layer with 2 ounces of the warm chocolate on top of each espresso layer by pouring down the bottom of a tablespoon held against the side of the glass. Again, using a tablespoon, pour another equal layer of cream over the top of each drink. The cream should be hand-whipped to a consistency just thick enough to float on top of the drink.