Sunday, March 28, 2010

Panna Cotta

The Dessert lover that I am, I might try and post more dessert recipes than any other type of food. Here is the first - PANNA COTTA

Panna cotta means "cooked cream". It is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set.
It can be served with berries, caramel, or chocolate sauce.

The name and recipe looks tidious, but this is by far the easiest "made from scratch" dessert.

What you need:

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh berries, gently washed and drained
6 sprigs fresh mint

6 ramikens
1 small bowl, 1 large bowl
1 cooking pot

*Half & half or whole milk may be substituted for part of the cream if you like it to be lighter.

How you do:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup milk and let stand until the gelatin is softened, about 5 minutes.

In a large saucepan, combine heavy cream and sugar.

Add vanilla extract or if using a vanilla bean, slice the bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds into cream (add whole bean as well to cream for additional flavor).

Bring cream just to a simmer (do not boil), whisking occasionally until sugar has completely dissolved.

Add the softened gelatin mixture and whisk to completely dissolve the gelatin.

Strain hot cream mixture into a large bowlto remove any bits of undissolved gelatin and vanilla pod.

Pour into ramekins or custard cups and Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
NOTE: Don't let the cream mixture cool before straining

Once set, you can serve it in ramikens by adding the berries/ other fresh fruit of your choice and mint.

For a better presentation, unmold and serve by carefully dipping the bottom of each ramekin in a pan of hot water briefly.
Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin to loosen it from the inside of the bowl.
Wipe the outside of the mold dry and place on individual chilled serving plate (topside down).
Invert the custard onto the plate and carefully lift off ramekin (shake gently to release).
Garnish with berries or other fresh fruit.

I just left it in the ramekin.

This is a fancy dessert and since it is easy to make and can be made ahead of time you can even serveso you can serve it in parties.

You can vary the flavor of Panna Cotta by adding the extract of your choice instead of vanilla and any food color, but I personally like White-Vanilla falvored Panna Cotta.
You can set this dessert in individual ramekins, plates, martini glasses or even in plastic cups. Simple Dessert, One Recipe, Infinite Possibilities.