We have recently moved. When I say recently I mean 4 or 5 months ago, but I am one of those people who says “the other day” and I mean two years ago, so that is kind of how my mind works. Even so, moving from a furnished flat to an unfurnished flat has its challenges. For instance, Pascal and I were sitting on garden chairs in the living room up until fairly recently. That being said, I was using this lack of furniture as an excuse not to have people over for dinner. Then I spotted the chairs that were to become “my” dinning chairs on Gumtree.com and all that changed. I was forced to make good on all those promises; “of course we’ll have you over, as soon as we have chairs.” So the time had come and the first victims were going to be, incidentally, our landlords; long time friends who have cooked for me countless times. In planning out my menu, I decided I wanted to make the dessert (I usually just buy it) and it needed to be something I could do in advance with minimal work. I also had these cool cups with silver bottoms that I hadn’t yet found a use for. And so, the idea for Panna Cotta was born. This dessert is simple to make and can be (must be) prepared in advance as it needs to set and is at its best super cold; served with fruit, it is a wonderful summer treat.
Ingredients (serves 4-6 depending on vessel size)
300ml milk (1 ¼ cups)
300ml double cream (1 ¼ cups)
120g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
3 gelatine leaves
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
200g berries (I used strawberries and blueberries)
Step 1: Combine the milk, cream and sugar in a sauce pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is melted. (Tip: If you cannot find caster sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar that has gone through a round in the food processor. Allow it to settle as this also creates sugar dust which is unpleasant especially in your hair). Into this mixture, scrape in the vanilla seeds (these have a tendency to clump so break them up as best you can). Then simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Step 2: While your cream is simmering, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft. At this point, take the cream mixture off the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Remove the gelatine leaves from the water, squeeze out any remaining liquid and dissolve them into the mixture. Then pour into the glasses allow to cool until set, at least 2 hours.
Step 3: Meanwhile, prepare the berry mixture by dissolving the brown sugar in a little water in saucepan over low heat, add the berries, stirring so as not to burn. Let simmer for a couple of minutes to get a glaze, remove from heat and cool. Then pour over the panna cotta to serve.
Note: For anyone in the US, double cream is pretty hard to find, so you can use 1 cup of milk to 2 cups of heavy cream, this should give you the right consistency. Also if gelatine leaves are unavailable, one sachet is about the right amount (1/4 ounce).