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 Puree6 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.