Panna cotta/cooked cream doesn't sound great in my ears. But in reality it is Italian luxury at its best. A dessert typical of the mountainous northern Italian cuisine, where history and tradition always have been more generous with cream than the southern part of Italy.
Panna cotta is eaten all over the world. It is prepared and served in every conceivable (and inconceivable) way. It is so ridiculously easy to prepare. Just made by simmering together cream and sugar, mixing this with gelatin and letting it sit for a night in the fridge... and tada! - You've got a delightful dessert that will impress. Fruit, berries, compotes or chocolate complement silky smooth panna cotta. And everything can be done in advance. Therein lies the greatness of this wonderful dessert.
Finally, some good news for all of you who find gelatin the most disgusting thing in history. There is a 100% vegetable based product for easy preparation of jelly type desserts such as panna cotta. It consists of white sugar, carrageenan and locus bean gum. The two latter mentioned provide the gelling effect, which means that this sugar product can be used for a vast range of desserts where you would otherwise have to add animal based gelatin. Here it is: Dansukker's Jelly Sugar Multi.
Jelly Sugar Multi is very convenient to use instead of gelatin leaves! Read on to see how quick and easy it can be to prepare panna cotta.
* 100 ml Dansukker Jelly Sugar Multi
* 400 ml cream
* � teaspoon organic, ground vanilla powder
1. In a saucepan, combine the cream, Jelly Sugar Multi and vanilla powder.
2. Bring to the boil.
3. Simmer for 30 seconds and allow to cool slightly.
4. Pour into 4 individual glasses.
5. Place in the refrigerator to set.
*One 1/2 teaspoon of organic, ground vanilla powder is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of standard vanilla extract or one vanilla bean.
Panna cotta is awesome on its own, but here I have chosen to let the dessert rest on a thin, round base of chocolate sponge cake. A nice idea for an Easter dessert, isn't it?
Panna cotta on a round of chocolate sponge cake
Chocolate sponge cake
* 2 eggs
* 150 ml caster sugar
* 150 ml plain flour
* 1/2 tablespoon cacao powder
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 tablespoons boiling water
1. Heat oven to 250�C [=482�F].
2. Line a baking pan with cooking parchment paper.
3. Generously grease the parchment paper.
4. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until thick, approx. 5 min.
5. Gradually add sifted flour, cacao powder and baking powder together with the water.
6. Pour into baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.
7. Immediately loosen chocolate cake from pan, turn it upside down onto a towel generously sprinkled with caster sugar, and peel off the parchment paper.
8. When cool, use a glass to cut out matching rounds of the chocolate sponge cake.
9. With a sharp knife, carefully loosen panna cotta out of their glasses onto the chocolate sponge cake rounds. Garnish with mango dices, or anything else of your choice.
I used a 25 x 35 centimeters (10 x 14 inches) baking pan and was able to make 10 chocolate rounds. Another good size for this purpose is a 20 x 30 centimeters baking pan (8 x 12 inches). Store in the freezer what you don't need to use immediately.