I have a confession to make. I don’t think I could survive without my sweet treats. All my friends know that I’m the kinda girl who would happily skip a main course, just so I can binge on dessert. And anything chocolate is what I usually go for. The hubby also knows this, and chocolate is what is usually offered as a peace offering after tiffs. There is always a bar of chocolate lying around and if I’m all out, I make do with a glass of hot cocoa. But as temperatures rise and summer sets in, I’m not really craving those rich, chocolate based desserts that I usually can’t resist.
For me summer means cool treats and that usually means ice creams! But I’ve been a bit pressed for time lately and so ice cream just feels like too much effort (I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I have to do things the hard way). So, come summer, I'm always on the lookout for easy, no fuss desserts that are light and, for lack of a better word, summery.
It was during one of these searches that I found this recipe for panna cotta with berries, on David Lebovitz’s blog, and decided to give it a try, because it just looked so delicious! In spite of this though, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive because, a while back, I had made a coconut milk panna cotta and was just not a fan. I found it just too heavy and rich. But I’m so glad that I decided to try this recipe out because the result was fantastic- a light dessert that wasn’t overly rich but quite delicious. The tartness of the berries cuts the richness of the panna cotta and that is what makes this dessert so refreshing.
The recipe calls for 2 cups of cream, and instead, you could use a cup of cream and a cup of milk. But you don’t have dessert everyday so why not treat yourself and go with all cream. I’ve have tried both options and the cream one is much better.
Here’s what you need...
2 cups cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 1/4 tsp gelatine
3 tbsp hot (but not boiling) water
Fresh strawberries that have been macerated (softened by adding sugar so the juice of the fruit comes out)
good quality strawberry or black current preserve that has been heated with a little orange juice to form a syrup. I can’t stress good quality berry preserve enough, because, if the jam is overly sweet the entire dessert will taste too sweet.
And here's how its done...
Grease 4 bowls or cups with neutral tasting oil.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine cream or cream and milk with sugar. If using a vanilla bean, split the bean, scrape out the seeds and add them as well as the whole vanilla bean skin to the pan. Heat mixture just till it begins to boil. Remove from heat and cover so the vanilla has time to infuse. If using the extract, then add the extract at this point.
I deviated from the David Lebovitz recipe here. In another pan, heat 3 tbsp of water till it is hot but not boiling. Sprinkle the gelatine on the water and whisk till it has completely dissolved.
Add the warm cream mixture to the gelatine and stir till both are completely combined. (Remember to strain! The mixture should be smooth. Don’t worry about the tiny vanilla seeds that pass through, they are fine.)
Pour into serving molds and chill for a minimum of 2 hours. I chilled mine for 4 hours just to be safe. (Remember to strain! The mixture should be smooth. Don’t worry about the tiny vanilla seeds that pass through, they are fine.)
After the panna cottas have set , run a sharp knife around the edges of the molds and loosen from the sides. Turn out onto a serving plate. Just before serving, add the macerated strawberries or syrup and enjoy!
Here are the results...
And if by chance the panna cottas don't set or you're worried about unmolding them, they can always be served like this!
Next time I make these I'm going to try using white chocolate- just be make it a little bit more fancy.
[All Images- Shalini Pereira]