Weekend Bites: Creamy panna cotta with summer
Paper Edition | Page: 25
Along with tiramisù, this classic Italian dessert is a mainstay of trattorias’ menus. The creamy delight, originating from the Piedmont region, is quick and easy to make.
Panna cotta literally means cooked cream, although in this recipe I use 50 percent milk and 50 percent cream.
For a richer and creamier dessert you can use 100 percent cream. The cream is usually set using gelatin, a solidifying agent made from collagen extracted mainly from bovine and swine hide, so it’s not a halal food ingredient.
For this reason, I substitute it with agar-agar powder that we Indonesians are more familiar with. It won’t change the flavor of the panna cotta and it will still be creamy and soft. The only downside is that it will be slightly firmer and it won’t have the consistency required of a perfect panna cotta.
But agar-agar, sets much faster, even at room temperature, while gelatin takes about two hours to set in the refrigerator. Gelatin is not practical for tropical weather because it starts to melt at around 30°c.
The other good news is that compared to gelatin, agar-agar definitely contains less calories and is also good for your metabolism.
For 6-8 servings
250 ml fresh cream
250 ml whole milk
60 g caster sugar
4 g agar-agar powder
1 vanilla bean
• Mix agar-agar powder and sugar in a saucepan to prevent lumps from forming. Pour in cream and milk, and then whisk.
Split the vanilla bean two ways. Scrape out the seeds with the back of your knife and add into the cream mixture. Whisk again to help break up the vanilla seeds.
• Put the pan over a low heat and cook until the agar-agar and sugar are completely dissolved. Take the pan off the heat just when the cream is about to boil.
• Strain through a fine sieve and pour the panna cotta mixture into the silicone molds.
• Let it cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes and refrigerate.
• Serve with some fresh berries of your choice and coulis of the same fruit.
• Coulis is actually a French strained fruit sauce. If you can’t find berries easily, feel free to substitute them with slightly acidic tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple and passion fruits.
250 g strawberries / blueberries / raspberries
25-40 g caster sugar A few drops of lemon juice
• Cut the strawberries in quarters. If you’re using blueberries or raspberries, you can keep them whole.
• Mix the fruits with sugar and lemon juice. Place them in a puree with a hand blender.
• Pass through a fine sieve for a smoother sauce and to discard the seeds.
• Pour the coulis over the panna cotta.
— All photos by Theodora Hurustiati
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