panna cotta with passionfruit sauce

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.┬áPanna 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.