I’m not lazy. Leave me alone. Just because the last few recipes have been fierce easy doesn’t mean I’m letting myself go. I happen to think that they’re delicious and as a charming coincidence they happen to require little to no effort.
This one in particular scarcely qualifies as a recipe but the results are surprisingly impressive. If you’ve got your eye on someone and you’ve managed to convince them to let you cook for them than this’d be the bees knees for dessert. In time I shall no doubt post some more elaborate versions of panna cotta but for now a beautiful classic it shall be.
Let the record show that this is as close to a healthy recipe as a dessert may venture, plenty of calcium and if served with fruit there’s your vitamins. Completely accidentally it also happens to be gluten free.
As an aside, when myself and my husband were on honeymoon in Italy we could hardly move for panna cotta. I thought they were so industrious having several flavours of panna cotta on the menu for any given mealtime; chocolate, caramel, strawberry, etc. I soon found out that they were all the traditional vanilla served with the respective sauce. Well played Italians. Well played.
Anyway, here we go. The recipe makes two generous portions (how romantic) or three not so generous portions (less romantic).
You’ll need a fridge.
Caster sugar 1.5 tablespoons
Vanilla – now I, as I am deadly, made my own vanilla purée so I only needed to use half a teaspoon but if you don’t have a sister in cahoots with a vanilla farmer you could use one full teaspoon of vanilla EXTRACT (not essence) or one vanilla pod
Gelatine* 1 scant teaspoon or 1.5 ‘gold’ leaves
*NOTE: I’VE SUBSEQUENTLY MADE THIS RECIPE A FEW TIMES AND THE AMOUNT OF GELATINE IS QUITE BRAND SPECIFIC. IF YOU ARE USING DR. OETKER THAN UP THE GELATINE TO 1.5 TEASPOONS. UNFORTUNATELY I CAN’T BE COMPLETELY EXACT ABOUT ANY OTHER BRANDS BUT THEY SHOULD ALL BE BETWEEN 1 – 1.5 TEASPOONS. SORRY FOR THE UNHELPFULNESS.
Put the cream into a saucepan. A small one is best but unfortunately all my small ones were dirty and I hadn’t the energy to wash them so I used a medium sized one. Add in the sugar and vanilla; if you’re using a vanilla pod slice it in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds then throw both the pod and the seeds into the cream.
Pop the pan on a medium-high heat and let the creaminess slowly come up to a brisk simmer. This is when the surface has a generous scattering of tiny bubbles, it’s preferable to not let it boil but ’tis not the end of the world if it does. Sure just spend the few minutes stirring it gently till the bubbles happen, it’s therapeutic.
As that’s all going on sort out the gelatine. If you’re using powdered gelatine put one tablespoon of water into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Now put the heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave it there until the gelatine dissolves. If you have the fancy ‘gold’ gelatine, like me, put one and a half sheets into cold water. (I bought my gelatine for a colossal price in Avoca but that was largely because I was all out and was planning on making a cheesecake that evening so I had little choice).
So we’re almost finished.
Once the cream concoction had reached sufficient bubbliness remove it from the heat and if you used a vanilla pod fish that out before pouring the mixture into a jug. Many recipes suggest letting it infuse for at least 15mins but you know my thoughts on such patience.
Scoop in the gelatine if using the powdered form or, if using the leaves, pick them up and squeeze out the excess water before adding them to the cream. They should feel weirdly rubbery. Quite odd indeed.
Stir to combine and give it another minute just to make sure the gelatine has dissolved. I might take this opportunity to warn you off beating the mixture vigorously because you don’t want bubbles. Not this time.
Pour carefully into pretty little (very little) bowls or glasses. No-one is truly arsed un-moulding anything, least of all panna cotta, so just trust me and pick a nice bowly thing. It’s also easier to have the bowls on a tray or plate so you can lift them into the fridge without spilling them. Now do that. Put them in the fridge.
They’ll take at least two hours to be convincingly set. Once they are set, neatly arrange some fresh berries in the centre of the panna cotta or grate over some chocolate or whatever takes your fancy. Now eat. (sister #3 note the green garnish)