Friday, November 1, 2013

Cassis Panna Cotta Verrines

Panna cotta is quite a simple dessert to make when you are pressed for time and/or ingredients.  You can even keep it simple or make it fancy into a layered verrines.  You can make a big portion in a ramekin or turn it into finger-food by giving small portions in creative containers.  Meow has come to appreciate the versatility and simplicity of this dessert.  I haven't realized how great panna cotta is until this one day I was invited to a potluck and did not really have much time to make a cake.  For me, making a cake requires a solid 3 hours in the kitchen, it is busy work throughout the 3 hours plus clean up time.  Even though this verrines does require plenty of time, probably about 2.5 hours total, there was plenty of down time in between.  The payoff is great too, you get cute little verrines that are well portioned and no mess compared to cake crumbs and broken slices, or even people missing out on the great dessert because a cake slice is too much for their diet *snicker*.

Meow has made panna cotta using this recipe before.  However, technique was different.  Previously, I did not whip my Additonal Dairy Option mixture into soft peaks and the result was just milk jello.  This time, the panna cotta turned out very mousse like.  I am starting to wonder if I can susbtitute this as a "very light mousse" instead of actually making mousse, because you know, making mousse is ass.  You have to cook the damn custard and also because of this, there is a minimum batch size which is still too much sometimes.

This is a master recipe for panna cotta.  A general how-to.  Therefore, if you wish to create different flavours and combinations and textures, you have this basic recipe to work off of.  If you follow the source link, there is a variation where you can create an even fluffier panna cotta, but that version cannot be unmolded like jello here.

Meow's breakfast one morning

Panna Cotta Master Recipe
Adapted from The Luna Cafe

1 packet powdered gelatin (2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 cup of Additional Dairy Option, or any combination thereof.
     (Up to ½ cup can be citrus juice, espresso, or other liquid.)
  • cream
  • coconut milk
  • goat milk
  • buttermilk
  • yogurt
  • sour cream
  • cream fraîche
  • crèma
  • mascarpone
     3/4 cup (6 ounces), or combination thereof
          Beaten until smooth with 1/4 cup milk
          (should be about the consistency of sour cream or Greek yogurt)
  • cream cheese,
  • fresh goat cheese, 

Flavoring Options
     Amounts will vary according to the flavor strength of the ingredient and your intended effect.
  • dried lavender
  • dried rose petals
  • fresh basil
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh tarragon
  • crushed lemongrass
  • rose water
  • orange blossom water
  • vanilla
  • matcha
  • orange zest, or lemon zest
  • fruit puree or jam

General Procedure

1.  In a small bowl, pour 1/4 cup of milk and sprinkle 1 packet of gelatin on top and let stand for about 5 minutes to bloom

Feel free to stir it a bit to get the unbloomed gelatin to bloom.
There is plenty of unused liquid underneath

Frozen cassis puree in the background

2. Take 1/2 cup of cream into a small pot and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Do not boil, just warm the cream and allow the sugar to dissolve.  Add any infusions (flowers, herbs, zest) and allow to steep for 30 minutes.  Strain cream into a clean pot.

This will appear very wrong, but it is right
considering the ratio of cream and sugar that is in there

3. Reheat the strained sugar-cream mixture to hot, but not above 130ºF (gelatin denatures at this point and will not set), and stir in the softened gelatin until completely dissolved (no grains, no chunks). Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup of your Additional Diary Option with the remaining ¾ cup milk and ½ cup cream until nearly soft peaks, or fluffed up to 50%, to create your base mixture

5. Whisk the cooled gelatin-cream mixture into the base mixture.

You will have ripples and the ripples stay for about 5 seconds when you stir this thing.
This is how fluffy you want it to be

6. Pour the panna cotta mixture through a triple-mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup with a pour spout.  Straining is important here as it removes any chunks of undissolved gelatin.

Cassis Jelly Layer

500 g of blackcurrant puree
100 g sugar
2 packet of gelatin (5 tsp)

1. Thaw the puree if necessary, sprinkle gelatin on top and allow to bloom for about 5 minutes

2. Add sugar

3. Gently heat on stove to melt the sugar and gelatin


General Panna Cotta (no layers)
1. Pour into six 4-6 ounce ramekins, dessert glasses, or molds. (There is no need to oil the molds.)

2. Set the gelatin: Arrange the panna cottas on an edged baking tray and put into the fridge. Lay a sheet of foil over the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

3. To serve, unmold onto dessert plates or present in ramekins or dessert glasses. To unmold, briefly dip the bottom of each mold in a bowl of hot tap water. If necessary (and it never is actually), run a thin knife around the edge of each mold to loosen the panna cotta from the inside of the mold. Wipe the outside of the mold dry and place on individual chilled dessert plate (topside down). Invert the panna cotta onto the dessert plate and carefully lift off the mold (shake gently if necessary).

4. Serve with macerated fresh fruit, fruit sauce, jam or garnish of choice.

Yield: six ½-cup servings.

Verrines (layered cups) - 2 oz each
1. In a small 2 oz glass (verrines), spoon 1.5 tbsp of panna cotta into it.  When bringing the spoon out of the pot of panna cotta, scrape the bottom of the spoon to ensure there will not be any excess to drip onto the sides of the verrines.  When pouring, do not shake the spoon to get the last bit, just allow the panna cotta to fall, so that you get clean sides.

2. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes

3. Spoon 2 tsp of cassis jelly on top of the panna cotta that has been set.  If the top hasn't been set, the cassis will sink into the panna cotta and blend

4. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes

5. Repeat Steps 1-4 for second layer set

6. If garnishing with fruits, dip the bottom of the fruits into a bit of the left over cassis jelly and "glue" the fruits to the top jelly layer in your verrines.

Yield: about 30, 2 oz verrines

Mr. Meow did not like my first attempt at panna cotta but he really liked this one, claiming that the texture is quite good.  I think the cassis jelly layer helped with his liking, I have a cassis monster in the house.

I initially added only 60 g of sugar to the 500 g of cassis and it was a bit sour for my liking, I had to dig all the way down for the full spectrum to get enough panna cotta to balance out the cassis' tartness, even then, it was a bit tart for me.  However, I received no complaints from other people or even ones from the potluck event I went to.  Those people there even had multiples of these little panna cotta - so many that I couldn't keep track.

If you wish to create slanted lines in your panna cotta, you can place the cups in mini muffin pans and lean the cup in the indentations.  These pans are deep enough and not too wide to provide stable support.

It was a great help to "glue" the blueberries on top using the leftover cassis jelly because during transportation, Mr. Meow hit a rough patch of potholes and all of them tipped over in the container :( Blueberries would have been everywhere.

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