Pannacotta
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Ingredients / Shopping List

3  gelatine leaves
500ml UHT single cream
450ml whole milk
100g sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste OR
2 vanilla pods 
Strawberries to decorate

 

Prep Time:   0:15
Cook Time:   0:10
Serves:   4

Prep to Cook:  Saucepan, basin, shallow bowl, mixing bowl, 2 x measuring jugs, knife chopping board, teaspoon, spatula / wooden spoon

Prep:  Place the sheet or leaf gelatine into a shallow bowl  and cover with cold water.
Put the cream in a pan with the sugar and 250ml of the whole milk.
Extract the seeds from the vanilla pods by slicing them lengthwise with a sharp knife and using a teaspoon to scrape the seeds.  Put seeds and pods into the cream.
Bring gently to the boil – stop once you see bubbles round the edge.  Remove vanilla pods.
Squeeze the gelatine leaves and drop into the hot mixture.  Stir well and wait 2 – 3 minutes.
Sieve into a measuring jug and add the remaining milk. Stir.
Pour into serving cups or ramekin dishes.  Leave to set in the refrigerator.
Either serve in the dish or dip the dish into hot water and turn out the pannacotta onto a plate.
Decorate with fruit puree or pieces of fruit.

 

Check it out !

Pannacotta means ‘cooked cream’ in Italian.  It is a simple dish that is hard to get perfect.  It should not be rubbery but simply a very light, delicate set cream pudding with good vanilla flavour.

Cooks Know How:  This traditional Italian cold dessert is perfect with seasonal fresh fruits. 
It is skilful in its use of gelatine sheets or gelatine leaves. The trick is to get just enough gelatine to set the cream to a ‘tremble’.   Gelatine is a protein that functions by creating a colloid, a mesh of protein strands that set on chilling.  The gelatine must be dissolved carefully in the warm cream and milk mixture. It needs a temperature of 40°C to melt.  Incorrect blending can result in ‘ropiness’ or strands of gelatine within the mix rather than a perfectly smooth texture.
You may wonder why UHT cream is used.  It is heat treated cream and this ‘ultra high temperature’ exposure makes the cream heat easily and it performs well as it is cooled and chilled. You can use fresh single cream if you wish.
Flavouring the mixture relies on the use of good quality vanilla seeds which are expensive but give a truly lovely flavour.  These days good vanilla bean paste is a substitute worth trying.
Temperature control is important in this recipe, firstly the heating, then cooling and finally chilling the mixture.  To turn out the desserts onto a plate requires skilled momentary melting of the gelatine to allow the set mixture to slide out of the container.  Decoration of contrasting colour looks perfect with pannacotta and adds a further flavour to the dessert.

 

Next Time

This classic Italian dish needs to be practiced to get it perfect so generally I would say just change the fruits to seasonal summer fruits and even stewed dried fruit compote in winter.

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