Saturday, June 13, 2009

Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce

Next to flan, this is probably my second favorite custard. What's so great about this dessert is that there is no oven involved. Just a little cooking on the stove top and the rest of it is done in the fridge. Also, this is quite a refreshing dessert because there is not too sugary and the strawberry sauce really makes it quite lush. Anyhoo, if you've never had panna cotta before, I think you'll like this recipe--which came from the Barefoot Contessa herself!

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

For the panna cotta:

  • 1/2 packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
For the strawberry sauce:
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • A few squeezes of fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of the cream, the yogurt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds. Heat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine.

Pour into 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the strawberry sauce: Place the strawberries and sugar in food processor and puree. Strain the sauce to a fine sieve to separate from the seeds. Add few drops of fresh lemon juice and refrigerate.

To serve panna cotta: Dip the panna cotta molds, one at a time, into a bowl filled with hot water. Leave for about 5 seconds. Invert onto a serving plate. Press two fingers on the bottom of the mold and then shake slightly to loosen. Carefully remove the mold from the panna cotta. Top the panna cotta with a spoonful of strawberry sauce.

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