This was my first panna cotta. Panna cotta is the dessert that chefs on Top Chef who were adamantly “not pastry chefs” would try with disastrous results, and so I was a little gun shy. Honestly, it is an amazingly simple dessert and I’m not sure why so many people messed it up. Panna cotta has a delightful, milky flavor that is great on its own, but even better as a base for other toppings. We topped it with fresh strawberries and passionfruit sauce, but it would be great with any other berry, stone fruit, citrus, nuts. It’s basically a dessert base for all seasons! I know Alice Waters wouldn’t settle for anything less.
Panna Cotta with Passionfruit Sauce, from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
One 1/4 oz packet of unflavored gelatin
Flavorless oil, for greasing the ramekins
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/4 lemon
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
3 T simple syrup
1/4 cup diced strawberries
Grease 8 ramekins with a flavorless oil. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 3 T water.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and lemon until simmering. Simmer for a minute or two. Pour into the gelatin mixture and whisk until the lumps of gelatin are fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Fill the ramekins and place them in the fridge to set up. Ideally, they will have about 4 hours to chill before serving.
To serve, top with passionfruit sauce and diced strawberries.