Daring Bakers February: Panna Cotta
The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.
For some reason that’s unfathomable to me, somehow I’ve never had panna cotta. Ever. I know what it is and I frequent all kinds of trendy restaurants where this dish makes a frequent appearance on the dessert menu, usually next to the creme brulee.
So it was killing two birds with one stone for this month. I read the recipe and came across the 3 cups of heavy cream requirement. After I finally managed to shut my mouth, I reasoned I could just cut the recipe. The smallest container I could find easily was 250ml. So I got to subdividing the rest of the ingredients. I made it one Sunday afternoon, just as the ribollita was boiling on the stove and a tray of scones was in the oven.
I generally avoid working with gelatin. I’ve never been able to get it all to melt in without leaving odd, tough particles at the edges of whatever I’m making. I thought I gave it enough time to soften. I thought it heated long enough over the medium heat. I whisked and whisked and whisked, even after taking it off the heat. I thought I had made it as smooth as I possibly could. I took out some little plain glasses I use for gin and tonics in the summer and got two of them filled to nearly the top. I let them set. The next day, Valentine’s Day, I softened some raspberry jam over the stovetop and poured it over the panna cotta to create some contrast. I topped the whole thing with a split almond.
Well, the gelatin did the stupid gelatin thing again. The top was smooth, the middle nearly runny, and the bottom was tough and grainy. What the hell? It tasted good but I usually don’t eat so much cream. I guess it’s not much different from ice cream and ice cream has a lot of sugar in it which this did not.
If I make it again, I may try the other method which is to heat the cream and sugar first and them pour it over the water with gelatin and whisk until smooth. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough to soften it. Maybe I should just do what Nigella Lawson says and get leaf gelatin instead of the grainy stuff. Who knows. Either way, I like creme caramel better.
I didn’t make the cookies. I had buttermilk to get rid of and I made two batches of whole wheat scones for people at work instead. Oats and Nestle don’t seem to go well with panna cotta so I didn’t think I was missing anything. I’m glad I finally made this storied dessert, though.