Holidays,  Lifestyle,  Valentine

Recipes #2: Valentine Inspiration: Panna Cotta

Happy Valentine, everybody!
Now, personally, I’m not actually all that big on the whole “this is the day to tell someone you love them” – why not tell them everyday? – but I am a big fan of taking the opportunity to express your love for someone in a more explicit way than just “be careful” or “text me when you get there” every once in a while – and what better way to do so, than by making them food?

Yes, yes, I know, how terribly cliche, that love should go through the stomach – but here’s the thing: is there any better way to show somebody that you care, than by cooking for them?
(in all likelihood: yes – but cooking helps)
So, whether you’re making it for a significant other, a family member, a close friend, or just for yourself (because that’s one kind of love that’s seriously under-appreciated!) here’s the recipe for a delicious way to show somebody you care: a Panna Cotta Trio!
Ingredients (for 9 portions)

For the base
-1l skimmed milk
-1l heavy cream
-3 tablespoons of sugar or natural sweetener
-1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or vanilla-powder (for example by Canderel)

For the vanilla-berry flavour
-1 vanilla stick
-3 leaves of gelatin
-400g of raspberries
-2 dl water
-50g of gelling sugar (or jam sugar, for the US)

For the citrus flavour
-5 oranges
-2 lemon
-3 leaves of gelatine
-2dl water
-50g of gelling sugar (or jam sugar)

For the chocolate flavour
-300g pure chocolate
-3 leaves of gelatin
-200g of speculaas

What you do

1. Firstly, combine the milk and cream in a large pan with the sugar or sweetener and the vanilla extract or powder. Put this on a stove on high heat and stir repeatedly.

2. While the milk and cream are heating up, take 3 bowls and put into the first the inside of the vanilla stick, into the second the juice of one lemon and 3 oranges, and into the third the chocolate, broken into pieces.

3. When the mixture of milk and cream is starting to simmer, turn the heat to low, and repeat this process once for every bowl: take the leaves of gelatin, put them on a plate and cover with cold water. While the gelatin is softening, pour one third of the milk and cream-mixture into the first bowl, and stir with the ingredients already in there.

Add in the gelatin, stir it through until the mixture is once again smooth, and leave it to cool while you do the next two bowls. The process for the citrus flavour and the vanilla-berry flavour is the same, for the chocolate flavour you want to let the chocolate melt for about 1 minute before you stir the mixture and add in the gelatin.d

4. Take out the forms in which you want to serve the panna cotta and pour the flavours in there – I usually try to get three different forms, or at least to serve the panna cotta in different ways. For example, when I took these photo’s, the citrus flavour was in a different type of form, and I put all the vanilla-berry ones in a cupcake-tray, so that the panna cotta, when set, wasn’t horizontal but diagonal, as you can see here:

Once you’ve filled all the forms, put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but preferably 8 hours or overnight!

5. Once the panna cotta has cooled down and set, it’s time to decorate! For the chocolate flavour, just crumble the speculaas and put it on top – simple as that, and the combination of chocolate and speculaas is really to die for.

For the vanilla-raspberry flavour: rinse the raspberries and put them in a little pan with the water and the gelling (or jam-) sugar, on high heat. Let the whole come to a simmer, bring the heat down to medium, and let it continue to simmer for a couple of minutes. Then pour the mixture through a sieve, put it back into the pan, and bring it to a boil on high heat.

If the coulis isn’t thick enough for your liking, you can always add in a little more gelling sugar! Don’t forget that the coulis will be slightly ticker when it’s fully cooled down, though! Once you’re okay with how thick the coulis is, take the pan of the heat, and let it cool down. When cooled all the way, just evenly divide your coulis over the panna cotta with vanilla flavour!

Finally, for the citrus flavour: juice the remaining lemon and oranges, and put the juice, along with the water and gelling sugar into a small pan on high heat. Let it come to a simmer, then bring the heat down to medium and leave it on there for a couple of minutes. If you feel it necessary, you can sieve this mixture as well, but I usually don’t find it to be necessary.

You want this coulis to be slightly more tart than the raspberry coulis, so I wouldn’t add in any more sugar – it’s okay if this one is a bit runny, as it makes the contrast with the texture of the panna cotta itself more clear. Again: when cooled all the way, evenly divide the coulis over the panna cotta with citrus flavour!

Now all you have to do is put everything back in the fridge for about an hour, so it can all cool down, and then just serve this lovely trio of panna cotta on a little plate – this is delicious to serve with some fresh berries, or just as is!

And there you have it, my favourite panna cotta-recipe! As are most of the things I cook, this started out as “lets just follow the recipe” and then smoothly transitioned to “oh well, I guess I’ll just do whatever I want” but trial and error has shown that this is basically the best recipe for my tastes!

If you do try this, be sure to let me know what you thought below! And again: Happy Valentine!