Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a great dessert.  Smooth and silky with a bit of a wobble.  There are so many variations and flavours you can apply when you have mastered the basic recipe. I particularly like the seemingly simple vanilla bean version.  A wonderful flavour in it’s own right, it lends itself to be paired with so many other different flavours and textures to either dress it up or down for either casual dining or something a little more spectacular to end a special meal.

The other great thing about panna cotta is that you can make it ahead of time so it takes the pressure off if you are having people over for dinner or lunch.  Below is the tried and trusted recipe I use and I have also included the recipes for pear compote and rhubarb purée which are two gorgeous accompaniments from produce readily available at this time of year.  Another of my favourite pairings is to pour passionfruit pulp over the top – a great contrasting but complimentary flavour.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

375ml Single Cream

375ml Milk

1 Vanilla Bean or 1 tspn Vanilla Bean Paste

10gm Gelatine Powder (1 sachet)

115gm Caster Sugar

Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds and add to the cream and milk in a saucepan and bring just to the boil.  Set aside for ten minutes.  Discard the bean and add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the gelatine powder over 2 tbspn of boiling water in a heatproof bowl and sit this in a larger bowl containing hot water and stir the gelatine until dissolved and then stir into the cream and milk mixture.

Divide equally (125ml) between dariole moulds, ramekins or champagne, martini or other stylish glassware and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.

Serve on it’s own with either of the following accompaniments or one of your own choice.

Rhubarb Puree 

450gm Rhubarb cut into 2cm chunks

125gm Caster Sugar

6 tbspn Water

Place together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for approximately 10 minutes  until the rhubarb has softened and broken down.  Allow to cool slightly and then blend until you have a beautifully smooth purée. Refrigerate to cool before serving with the panna cotta.

Pear Compote

2 to 3 Beurre Bosc Pears peeled, cored and diced

1/2 to 1 tspn Cinnamon (to your taste)

1 tbspn Soft Brown Sugar (again to your taste)

Place together in a saucepan over a medium heat until the pear has softened.  Taste and adjust spice and sweetness according to your taste.  Allow to cool before serving with the panna cotta.

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