Italy has long been one of my favorite destinations, and the food is just one aspect of what draws me there time and time again.
Panna Cotta is literally “cooked cream” and a quintessential Italian dessert!
I recently tested a base recipe and added two of my favorite flavors to create my very own Panna Cotta: Lavender and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Blackberry Coulis
What you’ll need for 4 small servings (or 2 large* servings):
*Dried lavender buds (edible). They can be found in most health food stores as a form of tea, if all else fails
*A high quality vanilla pod, for the beans
*70g of sugar
*400ml of heavy cream (30% fat minimum)
*3 sheets of gelatin and some cold full fat milk for soaking them in
*Blackberries and some lemon zest
Start with 3 tablespoons of loose dried lavender buds soaked in 400 ml of cream (30% fat) in a glass bowl, covered in the fridge. Let this soak for at least a few hours or overnight, if you wish to have an intense flavor.
Once soaked with the intensity you wish, take out of the fridge and drain the cream through a very fine sieve (discarding the lavender buds). Its best to drain the cream directly into a pot.
As a separate step, take 3 separate bowls and place a gelatin sheet in each bowl. Cover the gelatin with cold milk* and let stand for a few minutes until the gelatin softens and begin to crumple.
Going back to your pot of lavender-infused cream – add 70g of sugar and the beans from 1 large vanilla pod – and take this to a medium heat. You do not want to boil this mixture! it should be warm enough to allow the sugar to dissolve. Stiring constantly, add the 3 sheets of gelatin one after another until they are dissolved completely.
Pour the mixture into 4 small ramekins (or 2 large ramekins)
Allow it to cool just a little bit before covering it and placing it in the fridge over night.
To prepare the blackberry coulis: Take as many blackberries as you may need for your sauce (depending on the servings) and puree them with a little lemon zest, in a food processor. I then use a passatutto food mill that I bought in Italy for my tomato sauces, to separate the blackberries from their seeds. You could also use a sieve!
Take care taking the panna cotta out of their moulds. If they are really stuck, use a little hot water bath but do this only VERY briefly, as the panna cotta can literally melt…
*Most recipes call for soaking gelatin in water. I prefer to use milk as it secures a creamy and fine texture to the panna cotta!
*Large may be relative. The picture above was a “large” serving. For one person who enjoys a fine dessert, this is a good serving! if you use this recipe to make 4 small servings, please keep in mind, they will be small! (a blasphemy to dessert)