Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Perfect Pannacotta

Ever had Pannacotta? That silky, cream-based dessert you can order in any good Italian Restaurant, which makes your eyebrows rise, your eyes sparkle and your tongue play. Mmmhhh…I go – silky smooth and oh so good! I was surprised to find out how easy it is to whip up such a beautiful dessert, which usually leaves all your guests impressed.

I found you guys ‘The Perfect Pannacotta’ recipe, a title which usually leaves me dubious of the actual end result. This recipe comes from David Lebovitz, however, which lets me believe the title is correctly chosen. After all, David is an expert at anything sweet.

Trust established. Kitchen toys out. Pannacotta here we come!

The Perfect Panna Cotta 
Recipe from David Lebovitz (who adapted from Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts)
1 L pouring cream (35-36% fat content)

100g sugar

2 tsps of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

4 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine

90ml cold water
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You’re only warming it up to dissolve the sugar, don’t overheat it.
(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.
Pour the warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatine and stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved.
Allow mixture to cool down before dividing out into your ramekins. Chill for a few hours (I chilled mine overnight).
Run a small thin palette knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired. Alternatively you could make the panna cottas in glasses and not worry about unmoulding.
To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatine: Soften 25g of gelatine leaves in a litre 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.

To prevent your panna cottas from separating:
* Don’t overheat the cream. Just warm it enough to dissolve the sugar and gelatine (which can dissolve at body temperature).
* Either way, allow the cream mixture to cool down sufficiently before pouring into your ramekins or glasses and chilling it.
To Macerate Berries
Toss berries in caster sugar and allow to chill in the fridge for about 30mins to an hour. What this does is sweeten the flavour of the berries and draws the liquid out (which I love having with the panna cotta). Alternatively you could reduce this liquid in a small pan over medium heat until it’s syrupy.


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