Panna Cotta is that kind of dessert that you would expect in any Italian restaurant, it is a stable, a must, something that screams from the menu: “We are Italians over here!”.
It means Cooked Cream and it is something that Debi and I like to share anytime we have the opportunity (the luxury) of dining out in one of our favorite restaurants. Debi likes it with a garnish of chocolate sauce, I personally prefer a berry reduction with a hint of liquor… this said, I always end up stealing some chocolate sauce from her plate!The traditional recipe calls exclusively for heavy whipping cream, and the result is a real luscious and rich dessert that can make you feel guilty for days. I have spent a good three months, on and off, trying to create a lighter recipe, something I can serve my daughters in a day of feast, something they ” do not need to share”… and here you have it. I substituted half of the heavy cream with whole milk, I lowered the amount of sugar and slightly increased the quantity of gelatin to compensate the now less dense mix of ingredients.
This recipe is extremely easy if you take your time and let the dessert chill in the fridge, instead of attacking it right away (which I have done often). I would suggest you use professional metal 4 oz. molds, as you need to shock the Panna Cotta in ice water before you flip it on a dessert plate.
Panna Cotta - Prep time: 5 / Cook Time: 10 / Refrigeration: 3 hours / Serves: 6
Blackberry Reduction - Prep Time: 5 / Cook Time: 5
Pour the cream and the milk to a medium size skillet, cut a vanilla bean length-wise and remove it seeds. Add the vanilla beans and the pod to the cream.
Add the sugar and on a medium flame heat up the mixture, bring almost to a boil and lower the flame to low.
In about three tablespoons of water dissolve the gelatin, mixing the powder well with a teaspoon, then add to the hot cream.
Stir well for about a minute, then use a ladle and a strainer to fill the molds.
Let the Panna Cotta rest for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
When ready to serve prepare a small bowl with iced water and dip the metal molds in it, one by one for about 15 seconds each. Flip on a small dessert plate and get ready to garnish it with you favorite sauce or reduction. If the rims of the Panna Cotta appear to be stuck to the rim of the molds you can use a small pairing knife to separate the dessert from the metal.
Rinse the blackberries and put them in a cereal bowl. Using a spoon smash the berries to look like a coarse jam.
In a non stick skillet mix together the berries, the jam and the liquor; heat up on a medium flame until jam and liquor start forming a nice reduction.
At this point gently shake the skillet in your hand and let the liquor catch fire for a few moments. Do not let the flame go out by itself, that actually means that you burned all the alcohol in the reduction… It is always once to savor the kick of the liquor on the back of your palate when enjoying this dessert.
When ready to serve, gently dip the molds in hot water and reverse on a dessert plate, dress with a couple of tablespoons of the jam reduction.