Nothing beats a good Panna Cotta, it’s essentially a set cream infused with vanilla that should have a nice jiggly effect to it once set. Though I have created multiple variations of this dish today I will be keeping it simple with a basic white chocolate and vanilla take garnished with berries and a chocolate crumb. We had this dish on our festive menu back in December and served plenty of them, the recipe itself belongs to my good friend and fellow Chef Ashley Hutchinson, credit to him for this one.
The key to success with Panna Cotta is within the amount of gelatine you use to achieve the desired consistency which is the jiggle I mentioned before. 12 grams is the perfect amount of gelatine for setting one pint of Panna Cotta mixture, that’s equivalent to 3 sheets of leaf gelatine which you may use instead. Personally I use leaf at work and buy the sachets for home, the sachets come in packs of 12 grams so that’s really convenient.
Here’s the recipe, it will yield 4 good sized Panna Cottas. You will need:
- 500ml double cream
- 150ml full fat milk
- 100g white cooking chocolate
- 30g caster sugar
- A 12 gram sachet of gelatine or 3 sheets of leaf gelatine
- A handful of mixed berries, we used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
- 1 vanilla pod
For the white chocolate crumb, it’s optional but gives the dish a new element of texture:
- 70g white chocolate
- 100g caster sugar
- 2tbsn water
In a saucepan mix together your milk, cream and sugar then deseed your vanilla pod adding the seeds and pod to infuse whilst cooking. Now gradually bring your mixture to the boil on a medium heat, whatever you do don’t turn your back on it as it will probably boil over and result in a huge mess on your cooker top, I hate to admit it but I have done it a few times, I know what’s happened as soon as I hear the telltale sizzle of cream hitting the hobs. Once boiled proceed to whisk in your gelatine and chocolate, whisk vigorously to ensure the ingredients are dissolved.
Once dissolved thoroughly you can remove the vanilla pod from the mixture and discard. Now leave the saucepan aside and allow to cool whisking it about every 15 minutes for an hour. This is important to have the vanilla seeds consistently spread through the Panna Cotta, if you put the mix into ramekins without cooling and whisking the seeds will just sink straight to the bottom so by allowing it to cool a little the mixture thickens and holds the seeds because the gelatine is gradually setting. Once your seeds are holding up well give your mix one last whisk and divide into 4 ramekins and put straight into the fridge to set completely, it should only take an hour
Now for the Chocolate crumb (if you decided to include it.) Put your sugar and water into a small saucepan and boil on high heat, this solution will become a syrup. Using a sugar thermometer boil until it reaches 130 degrees Celsius, as soon as you reach 130 remove from the heat and rapidly whisk in your white chocolate, as if by magic the chocolate syrup mixture will turn to a firm crumb before your eyes. This is because the chocolate starts to cool the boiling sugar which is at the hard ball stage (hard ball stage is a temperature requirement for sugar work) and results in a firm crumb. With that done it’s time to assemble your dish, to remove the Panna Cotta from its mould sit the dish in warm water for about 30 seconds then tip it out into a bowl, you may need to ease it out a little around the edges with a small knife. Chop your strawberries and sprinkle around the dessert along with the raspberries and blueberries, to garnish sprinkle around the chocolate crumb and add a sprig of mint. I felt the dish worked well as there are 3 different textures working in harmony, beautiful velvety Panna Cotta, soft berries and crunchy chocolate crumb, it’s fantastic.