Strawberries have been remarkably cheap lately. I’ve been picking up punnets of them for as little as $1 each, so there has been an abundance of them at home. I rarely use fresh berries in desserts because usually I find them too expensive to use in that fashion, but at $4 a kilo I’m more than happy to whizz them up into a sweet treat.
Panna cotta was my choice because I love wobbly desserts and this would be my first attempt at making panna cotta at home. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cooked milk and cream set in gelatin. The method for making panna cotta is pretty consistent across most recipes, although the ratio of milk to cream often varies. More milk for lighter version, and more cream (or even only cream) for a richer dessert.
I had 2 punnets (500g) of slightly tired looking strawberries that were begging to be eaten in some shape or form, so instead of following a tried and tested recipe I decided to make up my own to use of all my berries. I pretty much followed the panna cotta recipe on the back of the box of powdered gelatin, added in all my strawberries pureed and then adjusted the amount of gelatin need to set this additional liquid. So this recipe isn’t all that original, nor did it take too much brain effort. Regardless, the strawberry panna cotta was a success. It was set with a good degree of wobble, it was smooth on the palate, had a subtle sweetness and a delightful burst of strawberry freshness.
RECIPE – Strawberry panna cotta (serves 6-8 depending on the size of your moulds/cups)
- 2 punnets (500g) strawberries, washed
- 250mL milk
- 250mL thickened cream
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 teaspoons (14g) of powered gelatin
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- Reserve 2-3 of the best looking strawberries for garnishing. Chop remaining strawberries and puree in a blender.
- Pass strawberry puree through a sieve to remove pulp and seeds, this should now give you just under 400mL of puree. (Don’t throw out the pulp and seeds, you can use this as garnish later.)
- Place milk, cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and heat to a low simmer until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and reserve.
- In a large bowl mix together gelatin and 3 tablespoons boiling water to soften the gelatin crystals. Pour hot milk and cream mixture over the gelatin and stir to dissolve completely.
- Add in strawberry puree and mix well.
- Pour mixture into individual dariole moulds or serving glasses/cups. I split my mixture into 6 dariole moulds (125mL capacity) and 2 small teacups (~80mL capacity).
- Refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set.
- To un-mould, dip moulds into hot water for a few seconds. Shake the moulds a little to loosen (you could also run a knife along the edge of the mould) then invert onto a plate. The panna cotta should dislodge with a slight tap.
- To serve, garnish with some of the strawberry pulp and/or some fresh berries.
See, I told you sometimes the simple things taste better than things that try to be more complicated than it needs to be. This panna cotta just goes to prove my point. It’s nothing fancy, it doesn’t try to be a anything it’s not. It’s simple – and I think there’s a real elegance in that.