This was my third attempt at Panna Cotta. I nearly posted the lovely Vanilla Bean and the Lemon that I made this past spring. Something was holding me back. Although those other recipes were far easier than this one, there was something slightly off with the consistency. What I am finding with the other two recipes is that they are perfect texture after about four hours, the problem is that if they sit overnight they continue to gel and become more the texture of jello, any longer and you have Knox Blocks. It seems that powdered gelatin just keeps getting more solid. A few weeks after this experience I still had two draft posts sitting in my inbox when I came across a blog article called "Perfecting Panna Cotta". If you are ever planning on making Panna Cotta, even this recipe I recommend you read the article first. I knew right away that I needed to delete those other two posts and try again. Then I promptly forgot all about it, until I saw a great recipe for Blackberry Panna Cotta. I started thinking about all my berry options and decided to go with Lingonberry. Unlike powdered gelatin, sheet gelatin takes some time to set up. I was really worried about these when I tried them after 6 hours as they were more the consistency of mousse, but had I read the instructions more carefully I would have realized they need to set up for a full 24 hours. At 24 hours they were perfect, I then held out and tried one each day for the five days following. Day five they were still perfect. They are really light and not very sweet, the perfect thing after a big meal. If you like things a little more on the sweet side I recommend adding an extra 1/4 cup of sugar, but if you like the tart natural flavor of the berries follow the recipe as posted. Also, don't miss the fun blog photo out takes after the recipe.
adapted from Tasting Menu
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups fresh lingonberries or cranberries
1 vanilla bean
1 cup whole milk
3 cups cream, 1/2 cup held very cold
4 sheets gelatin
Place 1/2 cup of cream in the bowl you intend to whip it in.
Gather six 6-oz serving dishes or desired molds
Cut vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds.
Steep the milk with the sugar vanilla bean, seeds, and lingonberries by placing in a small sauce pan and heat just below boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Do not allow to simmer. Remove from heat and and use either an immersion blender or potato masher to crush the berries. Steep for half an hour. During the last 5 minutes, soak the gelatin sheets in ice water.
Add the gelatin (removing as much water as possible) to the berry mixture. Strain the milk removing all the berry bits and vanilla bean. Return to a sauce pan, rewarming the milk. Remove the softened gelatin sheets from the ice water, squeezing to remove as much of the water as possible. Add the gelatin to the warm milk, and stir until completely dissolved and evenly dispersed. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour.
Whip the cream. When the milk is cooled, begin whipping the 1/2 cup of very cold cream. Stop when the cream is thick enough to hold itself, but doesn’t quite hold peaks.
Add the unwhipped cream to the milk/gelatin mixture that has cooled on the counter with a whisk. Add the thickened cream and fold with a spatula until the two are evenly combined.
Fill the molds or serving dishes. Pour the panna cotta into the dishes or molds quickly, as the cold from the cream will now begin to fully set the gelatin. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the molds.
Chill the Panna Cotta. Place the panna cotta in the refrigerator and allow to set for a full 24 hours. Serve chilled.
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