Monday, October 4, 2010

Sydney's favourite desert - Panna Cotta

Terry Durack of the SMH declared in July this year that 'Panna cotta is taking over dessert lists and it's time we said enough's enough'

Image: SMH

At the time, this made me giggle. I'm slightly obsessed with panna cotta, and have been for a while. I'm one of those people who skips straight to looking at the dessert menu when sitting down at a table in a restaurant. Seeing a panna cotta, maybe with an unusual flavour spin that would make it worthy of paying $12, would make my heart flutter a little every time. Well, that and maybe a molten chocolate cake. Which by the way also makes Terry Durack's 'same old' hit list. Luckily I'm not writing menus for restaurants, I might get well and truly stuck in a rut.

My obsession with panna cotta has taken me to dare to make this dessert for myself. Really, part of the reason for this is that I no longer get out to the sort of restaurant where it would grace the menu. There was a small problem with this - I searched numerous kitchen shops and none of them sold the silicon dariole moulds that make panna cotta achievable for novices like me. 

Eventually I dared to buy the solid steel ones. Sounding more than a little smug, I'm really glad I did. My main concern was the texture, after all that is what makes panna cotta panna cotta. But I need not have worried too much. They turned out perfectly; silky, glossy masses, scented with classic vanilla pods and eaten slowly and contentedly without any restaurant style accompaniment.

I think I'll be making these for my next dinner party. They completely take pressure off dessert making as they need to be made the night before to set properly. A seasonal fruit compote of your choice would add a beautiful touch, if you were so obliged.

My recipe:

3 cups thick cream
1 vanilla bean
90g caster sugar
3 x 2g gelatine leaves ( I used platinum strength from The Essential Ingredient

Heat the cream and whole vanilla bean together over a low heat. Once the cream is warm, halve the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and put these back into the pan. Then returning to the heat, stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Whilst warming the cream, place the gelatine leaves to soften in cold water for 5 minutes, then squeeze out the extra water and add to the warm cream mixture.
Next divide the mixture between six 125ml moulds.
Cover with plastic film and leave to set overnight.
The trick to getting them to come out of a mould is to place in hot water for a minute or so, and agitating the mould where possible.

Do you have any panna cotta flavour favourites? Or are you completely over them?

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