Baking cakes to go with fresh berries is fun and delicious and all, but around the Beyond Ramen household we need more baked goods like we need a hole in the head. And since eating berries with cakes doesn't actually go through very many berries, I still had a couple of baskets in search of a purpose. Of course, I could (and will) just eat them out of hand, but why limit myself to that when I could make another mess in the kitchen?
But what kind of a mess? Not more baked goods--I still have some of those chocolate crinkle cookies and ginger cakes hanging around--and not something terribly sweet. Maybe something that would use up the milk and cream that was waiting patiently in the fridge. And hey, look at that forgotten box of gelatin in the pantry!
Perhaps you've guessed where I'm going with this: panna cotta. The sort of thing that always makes me a little nervous, because texture in these things strikes me as tricky. I'm ace at custard sauce, such as creme anglaise, but the firm custards seem more difficult. Whatever. I had strawberries, gelatin, and dairy, and I was going to give it a go.
All things considered, it turned out pretty well. The surface was a little runny when it came out of the mold, but it was well set on the inside, and jiggled appropriately when wiggled. And it tasted like strawberry ice cream, which is to say very tasty indeed. Recipe below!
This panna cotta is mild and velvety, and goes brilliantly with even more berries. It is not a super firm panna cotta, so if you like it very firm, you might want to increase the amount of gelatin a bit.
The start-to-finish time for this recipe is quite long, but only because it takes a while for the panna cotta to do its thing in the fridge. The actual active time is quite short, and the the hardest part is pushing the berry puree through the sieve. It's a pain, and it can seem interminable if you're working with a large amount of puree, but the smoothness of the final product makes it worth the effort.
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Friday, May 1, 2009