Monday, March 8, 2010

Panna Cotta

This is my kind of recipe...simply, few ingredients and delicious!

This recipe comes from my New Best Recipes Cookbook that I have come to love and not be able to live without. My husband had purchased 6lbs of cherries and they were not pie cherries and I didn't know what to do with them. I decided to make a cherry coulis and panna cotta to serve with it (I think you would normally choose the panna cotta and then determine what to serve with it, but in this case I had too many cherries about to go to waste so my thought process was a bit backwards).

1 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1 piece vanilla bean, 2 inches long or 2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan; sprinkle the surface evenly with the gelatin and let stand for 10 minutes to hydrate the gelatin.

This is what hydrated gelatin looks like.

While waiting for your gelatin to hydrate, place 2 trays of ice cubes into a large bowl and add 4 cups of cold water.

Measure cream into a large measuring cup or pitcher. With a pairing knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream; place the pod in the cream along with the seeds and set the mixture aside.

Set eight 4 oz ramekins on a baking sheet. (I can count and I do know this is 12, not 8---I was taking this to a party where we were sampling a lot of Italian food so I opted for smaller portions in more ramekins)

Heat the milk and gelatin mixture over high heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture registers 135 degrees on and instant read thermometer, about 1.5 minutes. Off the heat, add the sugar and salt; stir until dissolved, about 1 minute.

Stirring constantly, slowly pour the cream and vanilla into the saucepan of milk, then transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set the bowl over the ice-water bath.

Stir frequently until the mixture thickens to the consistentcy of eggnog and registers 50 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup or pitcher, then divide it evenly among the ramekins. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not mar the surface of the cream; refrigerate until just set (the mixture should wobble when shaken gently), about 4 hours.

To serve, spoon some berry coulis onto each individual serving plate. Pour 1 cup boiling water into a small, wide-mouthed bowl, dip a ramekin filled with panna cotta into the water, count to 3, and lift the ramekin out of the water. With a moistened finger, lightly press the periphery of the panna cotta to lossen the edges. Dip the ramekin back in the hot water for another 3 count. Invert the ramekin over your palm and loosen the panna cotta by cupping your fingers between the panna cotta and the edge of the ramekin. Gently lower the panna cotta onto the serving plate with the coulis. Serve immediately.

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