Recipe: Easy Panna Cotta

RUTH PRETTY
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
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PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ

IMPRESSIVE: Vanilla panna cotta with milk chocolate sauce, raspberries and a honey almond snap.

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It has to be a match made in heaven: chilled, creamy panna cotta, redolent with vanilla, drizzled with warmed, luscious, creamy milk chocolate sauce and served with sweet but acidic raspberries. It is, in fact, a dessert fit for a goddess.

This is a light but fulfilling pudding, festive enough for Christmas Day but simple enough to be served at any time raspberries are in season.

Do make the sauce using Whittaker's 5 Roll Refined Creamy Milk chocolate as endorsed on television by the gorgeous Nigella Lawson. After all, if it's good enough for Nigella . . .

I suggest you serve the sauce liberally because the special Whittaker's chocolate may hold the key to a Nigella-like appearance.

MILK CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Makes 225ml or 8 serves

Children generally much prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate. This will be a sauce children will love. Try it on vanilla ice cream interspersed with sliced strawberries.

125ml (1/2 cup) cream

125g milk chocolate (tablet), chopped

Pour cream into a small, heavy-based saucepan set over medium heat and bring to just below boiling.

Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until smooth. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator to warm later.

To warm sauce, gently heat over a double boiler (ie a tight-fitting bowl or pot set in a pot of simmering water), stirring as it warms.

VANILLA PANNA COTTA WITH MILK CHOCOLATE SAUCE AND RASPBERRIES

Serves 8

125ml (1/2 cup) milk

16g (2 Tbsp) gelatine powder

375ml (11/2 cups) milk

500ml (2 cups) cream

100g (1/2 cup less 1 Tbsp) castor sugar

1 vanilla pod (split in half lengthwise)

Milk Chocolate Sauce

Fresh raspberries

Honey Almond Snaps

Very lightly grease eight dariole moulds or souffle dishes with baking spray or a flavourless oil such as canola. The volume of the plastic dariole moulds I use is 125ml (1/2 cup).

Place first measure of milk into a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatine. Leave for 3-4 mins or until gelatine softens and mixture is sponge-like.

Pour second measure of milk and cream into a heavy-based saucepan set over a medium heat. Add castor sugar and vanilla pod, and stir until sugar has dissolved.

Bring mixture to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 30 seconds. Add softened gelatine and stir until gelatine has dissolved. Cool mixture.

Strain through a fine sieve to remove vanilla pod. (Reserve pod for another use.) Stir mixture and pour into prepared moulds.

Place panna cotta into refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

To turn panna cotta out, gently move edges away from sides of mould to release vacuum. Shake mould once or twice and tip panna cotta on to a plate. (Try to avoid dipping panna cotta dishes into hot water as this will melt the dessert unnecessarily.)

Serve with warm Milk Chocolate Sauce, fresh raspberries and Honey Almond Snaps.

HONEY ALMOND SNAPS

Makes 25

These biscuits are designed to give the panna cotta dessert snap and crackle. Freeze surplus biscuits to have on hand to serve with other creamy or frozen desserts.

Ingredients

65g (61/2 Tbsp) butter, melted

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65g (4 Tbsp + 1 tsp) liquid honey

50g (1/4 cup less 1/2 tsp) castor sugar

55g (1/3 cup + 11/2 Tbsp) flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 Tbsp brandy

25g sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 160C.

Place butter, honey and sugar into a large bowl and whisk by hand until combined.

Sift flour and ginger on to butter mixture. Mix well and add brandy.

Lightly grease several baking trays with baking spray or cover with teflon sheets. Place a teaspoonful (10g) of mixture on to baking tray and sprinkle with a few almond slices. Space the spoonfuls well apart to allow for spreading.

Place in oven and bake for 10-12 mins or until snaps are light brown.

Remove trays from oven and allow to cool for 30 seconds or until biscuits are firm enough to lift. (If you are not quick enough to remove biscuits from tray before they harden, place tray back into oven for 30 seconds.)

Put biscuits on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

QUICK TIP - HOW TO MAKE A VANILLA POD LAST

Rinse mixture off used pod and leave on paper towel at room temperature to dry overnight. Place in food processor with castor sugar and process to make vanilla sugar. Alternatively, use next time a vanilla pod is required and add a little vanilla extract.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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