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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Espresso Panna Cotta

Coconut Milk version,
 using a 1/2 cup Mason Jar
pan·na cot·ta
ˌpanə ˈkōdə,ˌpanə ˈkädə
  1. -"a cold Italian custard, often served with fruit sauce or caramel syrup".

Panna Cotta translates from Italian to mean "cooked cream", and has become my favourite summer dessert this year. 
Elegant in its presentation, and simplistic in its preparation, its a win win dessert that doesn't even heat up your kitchen! It does require some time to set properly, so plan accordingly if you want it ready for dessert!

"Richer" version, using a 1 cup  Ramekin, filled 3/4 full
I have made multiple versions of this espresso version this summer, and decided to post my three favourite variations, as they all shine in their own way, and deserve a wee bit of the spotlight, depending on your tastes and dietary needs!
The lighter version is great when you want a dessert that is a bit less substantial, but every bit as lovely and tasty as the other versions. The "richer" version has a much creamier texture and velvety smooth mouth-feel that ups the ante a notch or two, making it just that wee bit more decadent. In the dairy free version (created just for my foodie friend Ken!) the coconut milk marries so well with the coffee flavour, it just might be my favourite... if I was ever forced to choose just one...  

Although I haven't tried it yet, you can also make Panna Cotta with fruit juice...picture a lovely mango Panna Cotta topped with a blackberry thyme coulis....I can see many more versions being created before summer is over!

This recipe does make quite a few Panna Cotta's, depending upon the size of container you choose. You will end up with approx 6 cups of liquid Panna Cotta, so choose your serving sizes accordingly. (feel free to cut the recipe in half, but the extras are a lovely indulgence to keep in the fridge ;) ..... 

When I am making it for company, I will choose several straight sided containers that will un-mold well (short mason jars, ramekins etc) and then pour the rest into various mason jars with lids, to be eaten straight out of the vessel as a treat in our lunches.  

A few quick notes on my choice of ingredients:
  • For the espresso flavour, I like to use Mount Hagen Organic  Instant Coffee. They have a regular and decaf version, that gives a seriously impressive coffee flavour to this dessert. 
  • Coconut sugar is almost always my sweetener of choice, for its lower glycemic rating, and its caramel like flavour. The darker colour will affect the end colour of your Panna Cotta, so if you were making a plain version of this without the coffee granules, you may want to substitute with an organic white sugar or honey to eliminate the caramel colour that this will give. So, feel free to substitute with your sweetener of choice. (I am thinking maple syrup may work well with the espresso flavour as well...hmmmm....)
Enough of my rambling, lets get to the recipe!! 

Espresso Panna Cotta, 3 Ways: 

Lighter Version
Full Fat “Richer” Version
Dairy Free Version
6 cups milk, your choice of lower or full fat
4 cups full fat milk PLUS
2 cups , full fat sour cream
3 cans (400ml)  full fat coconut milk
2 ½ TBSP gelatin powder
2 ½ TBSP gelatin powder
2  TBSP gelatin powder
½ cup Coconut sugar
½ cup Coconut sugar
1/3 cup Coconut sugar
3 TBSP Instant Coffee Granules
3 TBSP Instant Coffee Granules
3 TBSP Instant Coffee Granules

Method: (for all three versions)
In a small saucepan, measure out ½ cup of the milk, and sprinkle the gelatin powder over the top. Let rest for approx 8-10 minutes.

While the gelatin is sitting, measure the rest of the ingredients into a large blender and whiz quickly until well combined. Set aside.

When the gelatin/milk mixture has finished resting, turn the heat on medium low and heat gently, stirring often, until the gelatin is dissolved, approx 5-8 minutes. Do not boil!

When dissolved, remove from heat, and, with the blender running on low speed, carefully remove cap from blender lid,  and pour the hot gelatin mixture into the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Replace lid and turn on high to blend for 30 seconds.

Pour into desired serving dishes*** and chill for a minimum of 2 hrs or until fully set.
Round jars like this will not un-mold, but...will fit nicely in your lunch bag :)

If your ramekins have a small lip as
mine do, only fill to the bottom of this lip
or it will not come out easily. 

***Serving options
A: To eat as is:
pour into ½ or 1 cup mason jars, or other small vessels, and chill as above.
B: To un-mold:
Lightly grease small straight sided ramekins or other like vessels.
SIDES MUST BE STRAIGHT (or flare gently outwards) FOR THIS TO WORK!!
Pour into ramekins and chill as above. To Plate: Carefully run a knife around the edge of the Panna Cotta,  making sure you get right to the bottom of your vessel. Take care to be as smooth and even around the edge as possible.  (if doing this for the first time to serve to company, you may want to practice with a few to get the hang of it!) Carefully turn ramekin upside down over serving plate and using the knife carefully dislodge the Panna Cotta onto the plate. 
Garnish as desired.
(chocolate Sauce recipe pictured here can be found HERE)

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