I sound like a broken record but really, I am sorry that I have not been updating this space regularly. Most of Jan and the better half of Feb, I had been busy traveling and then when I finally touched base at my parents place and thought I would get back to blogging, the flu bug bit me. The meds have left me physically and mentally drained out and thus the absence. While I am still recuperating, I had thought I would share details of my travels in my next post but this dessert just could not wait.
This is the easiest dessert one can make. I actually made it in my half dazed sick state. So be assured, when I say it comes together in a jiffy, I mean just that!
Only woes one might face is getting the gelatin setting part right. I have had my issues with gelatin but I think I am slowly getting over my fear of gelatin based desserts. Or maybe it worked so perfectly this time because David Lebovitz calls this a fail proof recipe? Either way, it worked. In case you too have fears of the collagen derived food substance, you should read David’s post on how to use gelatin.
If you are looking for a completely vegetarian version, since some vegetarian have issues with gelatin being made from animal by products, then one can use agar-agar. I haven’t personally tried it but I read people have tried agar-agar in this recipe and it has worked for them.
If you still are wary about having lumpy panna cotta, add a step in to strain the cream gelatin mixture before pouring into your moulds. Its your insurance to a smooth silky texture!
And you would think with the amount of cream used, it would be a heavy dessert, but its surprisingly quite light, with a very smooth and silky texture. Perfection. And so easy!
I served the panna cotta with roasted strawberries, since that’s my favorite thing these days. And also because its so easy to make. Just cut the strawberries in half, put them in a baking dish, sprinkle sugar, wine and vanilla and pop the dish into a preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes. Simple, right?
Lebovitz’ recipe for panna cotta yields 8 custard cups. I made smaller servings and doubled the recipe since I was serving a huge gathering. As a result, I got plenty glasses of the good stuff, which my mom and dad enjoyed later. Thanks to the meds I have lost my appetite. A good sign for my weight, although not eating is not the way I want to lose weight. I would rather exercise and shed kilos, rather than starve myself to death. Anyway, this sickness too shall pass:)
- 4 cups (1litre) heavy cream (or half-and-half or sub half coconut milk and half cream for an asian inspired panna cotta)
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4½ teaspoons)
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water
- 450-500 gm strawberries, quartered
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1½ tbsp white wine
- few drops of champagne flavored oil (optional)
- Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, and the cream is substantially warm, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
- Lightly grease the custard cups or any mould that you are using for your panna cotta with a neutral-tasting oil.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes till it swells up.
- Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups. If you are wary whether your gelatin has set or not, strain the mixture before pouring into the cups.
- Chill the panna cotta until firm, which will take at least two hours but David suggests to let them stand at least four hours.
- If you’re pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding. To get the slanting look I have in the first photograph, hold the glasses in a slanting position with the help of loaf pan, or a dish that comfortably holds them at a slant. Pour the cream-gelatin mix mix into glasses until half full. Allow to chill in slanting position until set. Once set you can keep them upright and pour in the roasted strawberries.
- Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.
- To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatin: Soften 25g (approximately six sheets) in a liter of cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. Wring the sheets out and stir them into the warm Panna Cotta mixture in step # 4, until dissolved.
- Place the strawberries in a glass baking dish.
- Sprinkle over the vanilla sugar, followed by the white wine and champagne flavored oil. Mix gently.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool. Resist to finish the whole thing off.
- Drain strawberries. Put the liquid into a sauce pan, and reduce to a thick concentrate. It will thicken a bit as it cools. Chill before use.
- You can make them up to two days ahead and keep them well-covered and chilled.