Wednesday, 1 April 2015

White chocolate and lime panna cotta

Despite today's being April Fools' Day, I'm not going to treat you as one. Instead of, say, red herrings, the blog features a recipe for white chocolate and lime panna cotta. Perfect for Easter lunch! And since it's gluten-free, too, Passover too! Obviously in that case you'll want to use a kosher substitute for the gelatin...

Gelatin-set treats are something my kitchen (or this blog) has not seen. I absolutely abhor the jiggle of the jellies so loved by the English and practically without exception every single set cheesecake I've ever tasted has had that rubbery texture courtesy of overly generous use of gelatin.

Panna cotta is another thing I refuse to go anywhere near of. Crème brûlée (don't forget the blog also has a pie-version of that!) , baked and set using eggs, on on the other hand is always my most likely choice for dessert in any restaurant. Just imagine my disappointment when once, at a dinner in a local restaurant I ordered one and was served a bouncy panna cotta instead. In case you didn't know and especially in case planning on a career in the restaurant industry: not the same thing!

As the Instagram and Facebook followers already know, a  couple of weeks ago I attended Electrolux cooking school (what else would a food blogger do on her night off...?) where, guided by one of the chefs in Finland Culinary Team we prepared a three-course dinner. My team was in charge of the dessert. And the dessert? Milk chocolate panna cotta.

But what do you know! The recipe was so good I immediately adopted it and has been gorging on it like crazy ever since - more than making up for the lost time. This time I gave it a spring time makeover using white chocolate. Lime gives it brightness and the almond shards... well, make them even if that's the only thing you'll have time to make. Insanely good!

I picked up two professional tips for making most of your panna cotta: Add the cream mixture into the molten chocolate little bit at a time and using a spatula (results in a velvetier texture!) and after pouring the mixture into the ramekins, quickly torch the surface using one of those crème brûlée torches (this eliminates the air bubbles).

Depending on the size of your ramekins (and how much of the mixture magically disappears into the chef's mouth in the cooking phase...!) this yields 4-6 servings.

White chocolate and lime panna cotta:

130 g white chocolate
3 dl heavy cream
1 dl milk
1 tbsp sugar
a couple of drops of vanilla extract (or about 1/4 tsp vanilla sugar)
the juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 gelatin leaf

Leave the gelatin to soak in cold water. Melt chocolate over simmering water. Measure rest of the ingredients (apart from the gelatin) into another pot and bring to boil.

Strain the cream mixture. Squeeze out excess liquid off the gelatin and dissolve into the hot cream mixture. Start adding the cream mixture into the chocolate, little bit at a time. Pour into ramekins and chill until set (a couple of hours).

Serve with raspberries and almond shards.

Almond shards:

50 g butter
50 g sugar
25 g almond flakes
a drop of vanilla extract 
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt

1,5 tsp almond flour

Measure the ingredients into a pot and melt the butter and sugar over medium heat. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, add almond flour and spoon the mixture into a thin layer on a tray lined with parchment.

Bake at 175° until golden, 5-7 minutes. Once it's cooled enough to be lifted off the parchment, leave to dry on a rack. Once dry break into shards of desired size.

Tip 1: once the sheet's come out of the oven, you can also cut it into ribbons using a pizza slicer. When cool enough, lift the strips to cool on the rack.

Tip 2: You can also bake this into biscuits by dropping about a teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the parchment (about 10 cm apart as they will spread in the oven). And if you're really quick with your hands, you could also roll the biscuits around the handle of a ladle into cannoli-like shapes. Beware - the biscuits cool really fast, so in this case you'll only want to bake about 2-3 at a time. 

Oh, panna cotta, mi amore. I'll be feasting on you a lot. What about you guys? Fans of panna cotta? Any tips for different variations?




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