Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Panna Cotta and The Great Outdoors

In lieu of my recent camping trip to Alqonquin Park I wanted to make something with blueberries. Why? Because they were everywhere! We were lucky enough to have a campsite by the water where they grow so for breakfast it was such a treat to sit by the the very peaceful lake and munch away on fresh wild blueberries. Does it get any better? 
So as an ode to those lovely Ontario berries I've put together a simple panna cotta with fresh blueberries and a spicy, sweet ginger syrup. Topped off with a little bit of crushed graham cracker. 

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Blueberries and Spicy, Sweet Ginger Syrup
(serves about 3)

Panna Cotta:

1 cup milk (any milk but whole is best)
1 cup cream
2 tsp powdered gelatin, unflavoured*
1/4 cup sugar (I used brown for extra flavour)
Half a vanilla bean

Spicy, Sweet Ginger Syrup:

3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 inches ginger, roughly chopped
pinch of salt

Prepare your ramekins by lightly oiling them with cooking spray or a little bit of butter on a piece of parchment paper. 

Pour the milk into a small pot but don't turn the burner on. Sprinkle your gelatin evenly over the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until you can see it starting to dissolve. 
Turn the heat on medium-low and whisk the mixture often, making sure that the milk doesn't boil. You just want to heat the milk up to dissolve the gelatin completely. Keep whisking until the milk is hot but not too hot that you can't keep your finger submerged for a few second. You will be able to tell when the gelatin is completely dissolved by dipping a spoon in and seeing if there are any bits on the back of the spoon when you take it out. 
Once the mixture is hot and gelatin dissolved, whisk in the cream, sugar and the vanilla pod. Make sure to scrape the caviar from the inside of your vanilla pod and add that too. 
Whisk for another minute or so, until the sugar is completely dissolved. 
Take the mixture off the heat and remove your vanilla beans. Pour into prepared ramekins.
Cover with a bit of plastic wrap and store in fridge for at least 6 hours if you're going to unmold them. About 2 hours if you're not.

For the syrup simply boil all ingredients together until the mixture reduces by about a third. You can start this before the panna cotta and let it reduce while you're doing everything else. It's very simple and you can switch up the ingredients as you like. If you don't want it to be very spicy use less ginger. 

This is a really nice recipe for summer because it's very light and simple. It's great too because you can do so much with it. Espresso is a wonderful flavour to add or something more citrusy for a brighter, more refreshing dessert. Play around with it, the possibilities are endless!

  • You can up the amounts for this recipe easily. Use 1 tsp of gelatin per cup of liquid.
  • Also, make sure you bloom the gelatin before using it (letting it sit in cold liquid for at least five minutes). This ensures that it will dissolve properly and mix evenly into the liquids. 

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