Vanilla Panna Cotta, Coffee Caramel
Panna Cotta means cooked cream in Italian and it is very easy to make. You simply heat up cream, milk and sugar, add flavouring and then stir in gelatine to hold the mixture together. It must be refrigerate before serving so you can make it a day in advance, taking off the pressure for the day you have company (for me this is mostly a “company” dessert).
I use leaf gelatine to make the panna cotta, I feel the texture is better but I may be imagining it. Feel free to use powdered gelatine, measurement equivalent given below. Panna cotta should not be solid like creme brulee. It should “dance” and jiggle on the plate but of course, hold together and not melt apart. If you suspect there is a problem with your panna cotta, just serve it from the mold you poured it into and garnish the top and no one would be the wiser. I have some panna cottas that I serve in a martini glasses.
To remove the panna cotta from the mold dip the mold first in hot water (without dropping it in of course). This will loosen up the edges and it should slide out easily when you turn it upside down over the serving plate.
It’s nice to have a crunchy element with it so either make the honeycomb or crush a few amaretti cookies, or store bought meringue.
Panna Cotta Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 titanic strength gelatine leaves, softened in milk ( about 21/2 teaspoons Knox gelatine)
A pinch of salt
Combine milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean and a pinch of salt in a small pot and bring to a light simmer, do not boil.
Drain the gelatine leaves and squeeze out excess liquid.
Add gel;atine to warm milk mixture off the heat and stir to dissolve.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a glass bowl or cup and let cool.
When cool, pour into the panna cotta molds (I used ceramic dishes 3.5″ in diameter and about 2″ high). Refrigerate until firm.
To serve, dip the dishes in hot water briefly to loosen the panna cotta and un-mold over a dessert plate. Give it a tap or two if it doesn’t slide right out. Wipe around it if some liquid escaped the mold.
Garnish with crushed honeycomb, berries and a drizzle coffee caramel.
If you don’t want to make honeycomb, crush a few amaretti cookies or meringue, to add an element of texture.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup espresso, freshly brewed
Bring sugar and water to a boil, reduce heat and let cook, covered (I like glass lid for this), until it begins to caramelize. When it reaches the golden colour you want, remove from heat and add the espresso. Careful, it will splatter. Return to heat and let it cook a few minutes until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. Don’t over reduce as it will thicken as it stands. Keep refrigerated and warm up in the microwave before using.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoon baking soda
In advance: Prepare a pan 8″ or 10″ long by loosely lining it with parchment paper with the sides of the parchment rising above the sides of the pan by a few inches.
Combine sugar, water, honey and corn syrup in an 8 cup pot, cover with a glass lid and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and continue to cook to 300°F (154°C). If you cook it longer it will be black in the center and will taste bitter. The honecomb should be golden throughout.
Immediately remove from heat, bring the pot close to the prepared pan and carefully put the baking soda in, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and rise dramatically.
Tip the pot over the parchment, pouring the honeycomb into the pan. It will rise and bubble and is very hot, be careful not to touch anything.
Leave to cool in the pan for about an hour. the honecomb will harden as it sits.
Break into pieces and store in a an airtight container.