Thursday, July 26, 2012

Panna Cotta

One of the chef's on Chopped made a panna cotta the other day and I had no idea what panna cotta was.  It turns out to be heavy cream or just about any liquid, sugar, flavoring and gelatin. No cooking but it does have to set for 2 hours.  After one hour mine was still liquid in the center but at 2 hours it was completely set. Unfortunately I'll have to photograph it next time I make it because I dove in forgetting to pick up the camera first. Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet gelatin

I could have used all cream but my partner has already had bypass surgery so losing a little of the fat keeps the doctor happy.  I used Knox gelatin which had to be dissolved in hot water then mixed into the cream mixture. Follow the directions for your gelatin. Keep in mind that 1 packet will gel 2 cups of liquid. So modify the recipe so you end up with the correct amount of liquid for the gelatin you are using.

I did not plan to unmold the panna cotta which I regretted when I was plating. I'm used to making jello pudding so I was treating it the same way. It would have been easy to unmold if I had planned it from the start.  Next time, don't be so lazy Doug! I was going to put some strawberry rhubarb compote on top of the panna cotta but I needed some crunch too.  I decided to make some butter crumble for the top.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 oz  brown sugar
1-2 tsp milk

I used a pastry cutter to turn the flour and butter into course meal then cut in the brown sugar.  I didn't measure my sugar but I think that's about what I used.  If it doesn't look like enough, add a little more. Finally I added a little milk and stirred with a fork to make a loose lumpy dough.  I put the dough in the oven at 400ºF for 20 minutes or until it was browned. When it cooled I spread the crumble over the strawberry rhubarb and served the dessert.

It was rich and creamy with the sweet and sour notes of the compote lifting the vanilla flavor of the panna cotta.  The crumble was really nice too, I'll have to do that again! Vanilla panna cotta can be whipped up and served in two hours with any kind of fruit or berries and nuts could have given crunch instead of pastry dough.  The pastry dough added flavor to the dish so I prefer it to nuts for both flavor and cost. I had a bit left over which I served to the gardener on his break.  He said it was the best tasting thing he'd ever eaten. That made me feel really good!

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