Friday, December 01, 2006

Recipe Time #4: Tangerine-Vanilla Panna Cotta

A delicate but substantial dessert, panna cotta is literally "cooked cream" and is pretty simple to make, despite its fancy name. My version, tangerine-vanilla, is a little tangy (from tangerine & sour cream), a little sweet and very aromatic. Paired with a citrusy granita or sorbet, this can pretty much be a grown-up's creamsicle.

This dish should be made day/night before serving because it needs a bit of time to chill and set. And of course, the panna cotta can have a myriad of other flavors -- but I am not as adventurous as some other folks (like the good chefs at Opus and their celery seed & chive version) so I went for something classic, but still slightly jazzy.

Ingredients for about 6 servings:

~3 cups heavy whipping cream
~little over 1/2 cup sugar
~2 tsp. vanilla extract
~1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
~little over 1 tsp. tangerine oil (available @ specialty food markets, alternatively 2 tsp. of tangerine zest will work)
~1/2 envelope (1/8 oz.) unflavored gelatin powder
~3-4 tablespoons cold water
~8 oz. sour cream
~tangerine segments (canned or fresh)

First, measure out the cream and heat in a saucepan -- stirring constantly and keeping it barely simmering during the whole time it's being "cooked." You can add the sugar & scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream before it simmers. Also, while cream is heating you can combine the gelatin & cold water in a glass to let it set.
After cream is starting to simmer, you may add the vanilla & tangerine extracts, as well as the set gelatin (below). If you want a softer panna cotta, use less gelatin. Beat fairly rapidly to blend all the ingredients thoroughly, while still keeping just a simmer.

After the cream mixture is well-blended, set aside from heat. Put sour cream in a large bowl - and slowly incorporate & whisk the cream mixture from the saucepan (I did it one ladle-full at a time.)
After fully incorporating it, give it a taste test and make adjustments as needed (mine could've used more vanilla, so I added another 1/2 tsp. in addition to my original 1 1/2.) Then ladle them into the container of your choice (ramekins, tart pans, plastic cups, glasses...)

Cover the containers and put in fridge for at least 3 hours to let the panna cotta set (overnight is optimal.) After that, this velvety, creamy delight is ready to serve! (I personally added more color to the dish with tangerine segments and a raspberry puree.)




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