Don’t let its plain appearance fool you. Each spoonful of panna cotta carries the rich flavour of dairy cream which gives way to a delicate mouthfeel as it melts in your mouth. This elegant dessert is quintessential to Italian restaurants, and no wonder – this is a very lovable dish which, as I have come to discovered, is extremely simple to make.
Before we delve into the cooking, let’s explore a little of the history of the dish. According to the trusty Wikipedia (well, all the other websites I found said the same thing as Wiki), the origin of panna cotta is unclear, but it would most likely have originated from Piedmont in northern Italy, where the cows produce excellent milk and cream. What’s most interesting is that apparently panna cotta was made by boiling fish bones to extract the collagen (which through some chemistry magic turns into gelatine). While TummyTroll has made quite a few things from scratch (cue memories of the backbreaking radish grating for Chai Tao Kway), extracting collagen from fish bones is just too impractical. At the expense of historical authenticity, we have opted for off-the-shelf gelatine sheets as a substitute.
Ingredients for Panna Cotta: Serves 4
400ml Single Cream
80g White Sugar
2x2g Gelatine Sheets
A few drops of vanilla essence
Step-By-Step: Panna Cotta
While the gelatine rehydrates, pour the cream and sugar into a sauce pan and warm the mixture till the sugar totally dissolves, stirring occasionally. After which, remove the sauce pan from the stove and add in the vanilla essence.
The gelatine sheets should be pliable by now. Gently squeeze the gelatine to remove excess water then pop them into the warm cream mixture and whisk gently (we want the gelatine to dissolve evenly but with minimum air bubbles).
Pour into your mould of choice (the amount in this recipe should fit into 4 moulds). I used a ramekin which dishes out a decent serving. If there are too many air bubbles on the surface, you may want to scoop them out with a spoon. This is purely for aesthetics and it will only matter if you are serving it in the mould without any topping. Send it into the fridge and leave it there for at least 4 hours.
To unmould the panna cotta, simply dip the mould in a bowl of hot water for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the material of your mould. The sides of the panna cotta will melt from the warmth and you will be able to tip it out onto a plate (this may require some coercion in the form of shaking the mould or squeezing it).
Posted by #chubchunchua