Something Special

I made something special. Can you guess what it is?

Hint: It was delicious.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with blackberry-lemon puree.

Why something so special?

Because it’s Friday.

And Scott is here visiting.

And it’s been six weeks since we last saw each other.

(Boo for long-distance relationships.)

And I had vanilla beans in my cupboard.

Scott is a tricky person to make treats for. He likes the classics – chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie, chocolate cake (you get the idea). But I get easily bored with making the classics. It’s a difficult situation. But I remembered Scott mentioning about a year ago or so that he had tried panna cotta and found it divine (well, divine is my adjective, but I think it summarizes his experience). You can see that I have a superb memory for details and this time I choose to use my powers for good.

Because I am nice like that.

I admit to being slightly intimidated by the prospect of panna cotta. Just the name sounds fancy. And as it is often described as silky I figured it would be difficult to achieve.

I was wrong.

It turns out that panna cotta is something that takes very few ingredients and not that much hands-on time. I went to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and didn’t mess around. Then I paired with with a blackberry-lemon puree.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Lemon Puree

6 servings, from Mark Bittman
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
3 cups cream
1/4 ounce package unflavored gelatin
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Blackberry-Lemon Puree
2 cups blackberries
lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a pot, measure one cup of cream. (Don’t have the heat on yet!)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the cream. Let sit for 5 minutes (the surface will get very crinkly.)

Turn heat on low and whisk like crazy until the gelatin dissolves, ~ 5 minutes.

Add vanilla bean, sugar and remaining cream. Turn up heat to medium and cook until steam rises from the cream, ~ 5 minutes, whisking all the while.

Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Remove vanilla bean and pour into small ramekins.

Chill until set, at least 4 hours.

Now for the blackerry-lemon puree.

Collect the blackberries, lemon zest and lemon juice in a blender.

And puree it.

Add the powdered sugar, give it whirl and then put the whole thing through a fine-meshed strainer. 2 cups of blackberries have an astounding number of seeds that will ruin the velvety-ness of the puree.

Honestly, the most difficult thing about this entire process was getting the damn panna cotta out of the little bowls to serve it. I ran a knife around the edges and then put the bowl into a hot water bath, flipped it over with some agitation (and a few swear words) and finally got it to come out.

I guess it just takes practice.

But it turned out amazingly well, given my hesitation towards making it.

I think this one’s a keeper.

Kind of like Scott.


One response to “Something Special

  1. Scott Alister McKinley


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