Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Panna Cotta - Cathy

Another one of Erin’s favorites, panna cotta is an Italian cream dessert—kind of like a cream jello, actually, though that’s not a particularly appealing description.  It’s a very simple dessert; just a creamy, vanilla-y, soft gelatin that’s usually served unmolded onto a plate or out of a nice wine glass—either way served with a fruit puree sauce or some fresh fruit.  

This recipe is the best version I’ve found, from the ever-reliable “Best of the Best” Cookbook II—written by those Canadian Best of Bridge ladies. I like to serve this with just a few fresh berries.  

Most American restaurants serve it with a raspberry or other fruit puree, but I think that fruit purees overwhelm the delicate panna cotta, but that’s just my humble opinion. What the Best of Bridge ladies say about it is “You’ll never make anything else that’s this good and this easy!  The texture is like velvet!"

We have it for dessert with Christmas dinner. It's great because you can make it the day before, then throw it in the fridge and you don't have to worry about it all day. It always comes out great! We have even served it to a large group for one of Caity's high school Christmas dance dinners, transporting it easily to another home to serve where it was a big success.

Makes approximately 6-8 servings depending on serving size.

what you'll need: 

1 Tbsp. gelatin (1 envelope)
1 cup of milk (separated into 1/2 cups)
3 cups heavy or whipping cream 
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Fruit for garnish (raspberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple, kiwi fruit, peaches - I tend to just sprinkle with a few raspberries, a few pieces of strawberries and maybe a small leaf of fresh mint or two if I have some)

In a large bowl, add the gelatin to 1/2 cup of cold milk and let soften. Set aside. 

In a saucepan, combine the other 1/2 cup of milk (the non-gelatin milk), cream, sugar and vanilla and bring to a boil. Pour the saucepan's contents into the large bowl with the gelatin and milk. Stir until completely dissolved. 

Fill another large bowl with cold water and ice. 

Set the bowl with the mixture over the ice water bowl and chill for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until almost set. 

Pour the cream mixture into ramekins or wineglasses you like and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

Serve topped with a few pieces of fruit or berries in a wine glass or ramekin. 

Or if you would like to unmold the panna cotta from the ramekin, quickly dip ramekins in warm water to loosen sides. Invert on individual serving plates and shake to release. Surround with pieces of fruit and serve. 

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