Panna cotta is such a simple dessert to make, yet it gives off a feeling of being difficult. For a long time I would see it at restaurants or in pictures and think there was no way I could make that. Then one day I finally took the two seconds and read the recipe. I thought for sure I was missing part, there was no way it could be that simple…oh but it was. The basic recipe calls for heavy cream/milk,, sugar, vanilla, gelatin and water, and from there you can use your imagination to create whatever you think might make your toes curl. I love David Lebovitz’s Perfect Panna Cotta recipe, it’s great as is, but I wanted to be a little creative and try chocolate salted caramel. So I adjusted how I did the sugar and added in a little dark chocolate, I’m definitely happy with the results. The twinadoes were occupied so I tempted fate and decided to try my hand at making decorative sugar sticks to put in the dessert…I need to keep practicing.
For the Recipe:
4 c. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 oz. dark chocolate
1/2 c. sugar
2 packets gelatin (about 4 1/2 tsp.)
6 tbsp. water
In a saucepan heat the cream, entire vanilla bean (split lengthwise, seeds scraped), and chocolate over medium low heat. Cook enough to melt the chocolate, then remove from heat and let steep for about 30 minutes so the vanilla bean has time to infuse the cream with flavor. In a heavy bottom saucepan, that is big enough to accommodate the cream mixture, heat the sugar. You want the sugar to melt and become a nice amber color. Do not stir!!! If you need to, swirl the pan a little to even out the sugar, but again, do not stir. While the sugar is melting put the gelatin and water in a large glass Pyrex type measuring cup (I used an 8 cup). You want it to have a spout for easy pouring into your dessert bowls. Once the sugar is at a nice amber color strain the cream mixture into the sugar saucepan. It will spit and splatter, no worries… but this is all very hot so use caution. Toss whatever is left in the strainer, and give the cream/sugar mixture a good whisking. If some of the caramel (that would be the amber sugar) hardens, just let it warm up a bit and it will go back to a liquid form. Now you can pour this mixture over the gelatin, whisk well to break up the gelatin. You don’t want any globs of it left behind, that would not be a pleasant bite… Now you are ready to pour the panna cotta into your desired dessert cups. You can do several different things. If you want to present it in it’s molded shape, lightly oil (with a flavorless oil) your desired cup so that when it is ready it will slide out. You can also just pick a nice dish and serve it as is or decorated. Next time I would put them in little shot glass type cups. This is just so rich that too cmuch can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe that’s just me. I put one of my cray cray looking sugar decorations in it for fun. You would put a little cocoa powder, a sprinkling of sea salt or whatever idea you come up with.