I’VE BEEN ON A TUSCAN KICK THIS MONTH. Already I’ve made Cecina — a naturally gluten-free Tuscan flatbread, as well as some lemon-rich Polpettine. And this morning, I whipped up a batch of Panna Cotta. Are you familiar with this glamorous and outrageously-delicious Tuscan dessert? It takes all of 10 minutes to prepare.
At its traditional best, Panna Cotta is composed of sweetened cream, gelatin, and vanilla. You pour this luscious liquid into little molds (I like to use custard cups, coffee cups, or tea cups) and then chill it for four hours, or for up to two days. Then you unmold it onto plates, bowls, or dessert goblets.
Easy peazy, right?
Let’s make this poetry.
Heavy cream too rich for you? Use half-and-half.
And that reminds me. While shopping at my lousy local supermarket the other day, I noticed — to my utter
horror amusement — a fat-free version of half and half. Have any of you tried this stuff? I’m curious to know what you think of it.
And then violently rip open two packets of unflavored gelatin, and sprinkle the little granules over the water. You needn’t stir the gelatin — just let it lounge and luxuriate on the water for about 5 minutes.
Now it’s time to select your molds! I’ve formed Panna Cotta in each of the following:
And get this — I was single at the time.
Single. But hopeful.
Note: After four hours have passed, you can unmold the Panna Cotta. Or, you can cover the molds with plastic wrap. The cream will keep perfectly well in the fridge for up to two days.
If you shake the baking tray and the cream doesn’t shimmy like your sister Kate, you’ll know the cream has set.
Invert the two…
Say three Hail Marys…
You can decorate this deliciousness with just about anything that pops into your head.
If you’d like to shock your dinner guests, top the dessert with anchovies.
Otherwise, consider chocolate shavings. Or cocoa-powder. Or caramel. Or honey.
So please feel sorry for me and leave lots of comments on this post, okay?
And be sure to make this Tuscan treasure. It’s silky. It’s smooth. One bite, and you’ll want to eat the entire batch.
Just as I did.
Need a copy-and-paste version of the above? Here goes:
Ingredients for 8 half-cup servings
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packets (or 4 1/2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
6 tablespoons cold water
Special equipment – Custard cups, coffee cups, tea cups or little bowls in which to mold the Panna Cotta
Pour the cream and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan. While stirring occasionally, heat the mixture just until the sugar dissolves.
Off heat, stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour 6 tablespoons of water into a large bowl, then sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, spray your custard cups or whatever type of molds you are using, with non-stick spray. Then place the molds atop a baking sheet.
Tip the still-warm cream into the bowl of gelatin, and stir with a spatula until the gelatin dissolves. Then ladle the cream into the molds, and let them chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours. (After 4 hours, you can either unmold the desserts, or cover them with plastic wrap. The cream will keep perfectly well in the fridge for up to two days.)
To unmold, run a knife around the edge of the cream, set a plate or a bowl atop the mold, and then invert the two.
Just before serving, decorate the top of the dessert with berries, chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, or honey.
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