Vanilla panna cotta

Video guide to vanilla panna cotta

 Hi, I'm going to show you how to make a delicious Valentine's Day dessert. This is a vanilla panna cotta with a passion fruit sauce. One of the great things about this dish is you can make it ahead of time and then store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Ingredients for panna cotta

Let me talk you through the ingredients first of all. You need a teaspoon and a half of powdered gelatine and also 30g of caster sugar, 125ml of milk, 350ml of cream and you're going to need the zest of about half a lemon, or half an orange if you like, which is equivalent to about a teaspoonful. Also here I've got half a vanilla pod, so I'm going to show you what to do with that shortly.

Dissolve the gelatine powder

The first thing you need to do is pour into a small bowl about three quarters of the milk and then we're going to add the powdered gelatine. And now we're going to give that a stir and leave it to stand for about 10 minutes so that all the gelatine softens and starts to dissolve into the milk.

I'm just going to pop that over to the side for a moment. The next thing we need to do is put the rest of the ingredients into a heavy-base saucepan, so I'm going to start by adding the milk and then we add the cream and finally, the sugar. OK, the lemon zest, or orange zest. I always like to wash my oranges or lemons if I'm going to do this in a bit of warm water first of all, it just releases the zest a lot easier. There we go, that should be enough of that. Pop those out of the way.

And now the vanilla pod. I've got half a pod here. Now this is very simple to do, all you need to do with a sharp knife is just very carefully slice down and it should open up. Inside here, look, you can see all the little seeds. I'm going to take those out. I'm going to pop both the pod and the seeds in because the pod will help to infuse the flavour as well. There we go, pop that in.

Heat the ingredients

Now this is going to go on a medium heat until it comes up to the boil. Please don't be tempted to walk away and leave this because obviously milk and cream can boil and bubble over very easily, you don't want that to happen. I'm just going to stir it to make sure I'm dissolving everything. I can tell that all the sugar has dissolved, so it doesn't need stirring continuously, but I'm just going to keep a close eye on it.

OK, so the panna cotta mix is boiling now and I don't want it to go too made with the boiling so I'm going to turn the heat off. That looks great, and I'm going to add in the gelatine and the milk mix that I prepared earlier, and you can see that it's gone nice and thick now. This is going to go straight in to the panna cotta mixture and then if you take a whisk; I've got a hand whisk here but you can use an electric whisk if you like. I'm quite sure this is really well combined by now so I'm happy to pop this on the side and let the starch cool.

Make the passion fruit sauce

Now, while I let that cool a little bit, I'm going to get straight on and do the passion fruit sauce. So the ingredients for this are four passion fruits, that you can see here, and two tablespoons of caster sugar. So the first thing I need to do is get all the juice and the seeds out of the passion fruit, this is very simple to do. Just cut them in half and I'm going to put this straight into the smaller pan that I've got here. This makes a great accompaniment, the sauce, to the panna cottas.

OK, so that's all the juice out, let me clear these away. I'll just clear my work surface off a little bit. OK, so I'm now going to add the caster sugar into the passion fruit and put this on a low heat, low to medium heat. And this needs to go thick and syrupy, which will only take two or three minutes probably.

So I've let that come up to the boil, it's bubbled for a couple of minutes and it's beautiful and syrupy. I don't want to overcook that so I'm going to turn that down now. So I'm going to leave this to one side to let that cool a little bit and we're going to come back to the panna cotta mixture.

Sieve the mixture

What we now need to do, it's cooled a little bit, is sieve it to make sure we get the vanilla pod out and any slight lumps of gelatine or bits of lemon zest that are a bit too big. I'm going to put this back into the jug that I originally had the cream in and I've just got a sieve here. So I'm going to carefully pop that on the top, take my whisk out of the way and then carefully just strain this through.

There we go. OK, so on to the dariole moulds now. I've got two here and these are standard sizes. If you wanted to, you could always use a glass ramekin and this you wouldn't have to take the panna cotta out when it's done, you just serve it with the sauce on top.

OK, simply you pour the panna cotta mixture into the moulds, you want it almost to the top but just not quite. I can smell the vanilla and the lemon coming out beautifully. I've actually got a cheeky little bit of mixture left so I'm going to use that glass ramekin and that can be a secret one.

OK, move that out of the way. Right, these are going to go in the fridge for at least five hours and preferably overnight.

Tip for making panna cotta

So these are two that I made yesterday and they've been chilling overnight so I'm going to pop these out on the plate to show you how that part works. A great tip for you here is to use a bowl with some very hot water in it and this will help just lose the panna cotta out of the moulds. Let me get my towel. All you need to do is carefully swirl that in the water for about a count of six. I can tell that's starting to loosen perfectly, wipe the bottom. I'm just loosening it round the edge, I can tell it's just nice and loose now.

And there we go, that's panna cotta number one and the same with number two. You will be able to tell when you do this when it's just ready to ease away from the sides. I can just see that it's starting to come away from the sides and I can move them around in the mould, so on to the plate, upside down. One, two, three, there we go.

So now we need the sauce that I made earlier. Lovely and syrupy and just carefully spoon some of this on the top and let it drizzle down the side. Looks absolutely gorgeous, there we go.

And there we have it, a lovely and romantic idea for Valentine's dessert; vanilla panna cotta with passion fruit.

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