I’ve always loved panna cotta. It reminds me of the years I spent in the South of Switzerland, near the Italian border and the simple pleasures of life I first started to appreciate there.
There aren’t that many things in the kingdom of deserts simpler than panna cotta. It can be prepared and refrigerated in literally 5 minutes, and few hours later, without further efforts it is a valuable dessert – rich and velvety. In my opinion the good summer panna cotta is like a luxurious frame to the fresh fruit topping you choose – it has to be flavored carefully, in order not to overwhelm it, but to stress fruit taste and tanginess. That’s why I prefer to be rather careful with flavoring, often limiting it to just vanilla.
Well, I do tried some infusions, like cardamom panna cotta and rose honey panna cotta, and they were not bad at all, but these versions are good when you don’t have fresh fruits handy. With the mountains of berries, cherries and peaches at the market now, you only have to choose your favorites.
You can also choose the lightness of your panna cotta – using heavy cream, or half and half or even make it 1/3 heavy cream and 2/3 whole milk.
Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 2 to 4-5 hours
300ml heavy cream 300ml whole milk 100ml pineapple juice* (60g) 4 tbsp sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 3 tsp powdered gelatin (around 1½ packet)
4 tbsp cold water
Your favorite fresh fruits for topping – just chopped. I flavored it with a splash of homemade sour cherry liquor I got as a gift, but any of your favorite fruit liquor or Amaretto will do. If you plan to serve it to kids, add the alcohol to the fruits after serving them.
*As some fruits like pineapples and kiwi contain bromelin, using them with gelatin can prevent it from setting. It is enough to heat the fruits or their juice in order to destroy this enzyme before mixing with the gelatin.
Pour the cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Do not pile it otherwise it will not dissolve well. Put the bowl aside for 5-10 minutes.
In a saucepan heat the cream, milk, pineapple juice and sugar over medium heat. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the hot mixture over the gelatin and stir until it is completely dissolved.
Divide the panna cotta mixture into cups and chill them until firm for at least 2-3 hours. You can also use wine goblets or other elegant glasses, and serve the panna cotta in them, if you’re short of time.
To unmold you can run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna cotta or dip the cups in a bowl of warm water, up to the rim, for 10 seconds. Do not use hot water for this and do not use warm serving plates, as it will melt the gelatin. Holding the cups upright, shake slightly to loosen the panna cotta from mold and cover with the plate. Then carefully flip over the cup and plate together and lift off the cup.
Garnish with a mix of chopped pineapple and redcurrant or with your favorite fruit with a splash of fruit liquor.