We were all very fond of the ridiculously French chef-teachers at Le Cordon Bleu. Only a few weeks into classes, we found ourselves doe-eyed and fresh-faced in a demonstration kitchen being taught the secrets of set custards. Chef (he didn’t seem to have a first or last name, just ‘Chef’) stood in front of our class, a huge grin on his face, and pronounced that the perfect panna cotta “should wobble like the breasts of a teenage girl”.
I can’t recommend jiggling in one hand your panna cotta and in the other… ahem… Nevertheless, the “wobble” test is a reliable one – there’s nothing more titillating than watching your dessert dance on it’s plate.
Panna cotta (like ice cream) is such a fun dessert to play with and a perfect canvas to splash with a colourful flavour experiment or two.
This is my version of a recipe from Fandango: Recipes, parties, and license to make magic, an amazing book with fabulous party themes and ideas. I think the lemon cups are really fun, and a great way to incorporate the citrus theme for The Cookbook Challenge this fortnight. I’ve infused the milk with some herbs from my garden and decided to serve the panna cotta in lemon cups instead of orange ones – I just find them a little more delicate. If you want a bigger serving, this recipe will make four panna cotta cups if served in oranges.
Panna cotta is very easy to make – you quite simply heat all of the ingredients to dissolve the gelatin, let it set in the fridge and hey presto ! The secret is not to let the milk get too hot (i.e. don’t furiously boil), as it will stop the gelatin from working properly. This would be lovely served with a crisp almond biscuit or a caramel macadamia brittle. The flavour of this set-milk dessert is wonderfully complex without being overpowering.
Now I know you’re wondering what on earth that baby budgee figurine is doing on the plate. I can’t think of a reasonable answer to give you. I just felt compelled to include him in the shot.
sweet, salty, fragrant lemon panna cotta
makes 6 lemon cups
- 2 tsp powdered gelatin
- 1/2 cup (110g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (120mL) heavy cream
- 2 cups (480mL) whole milk
- zest of 2 lemons (grated or sliced)
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 2 sprigs of lavender
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
- 1/8 tsp of sea salt
- 6 medium sized lemons
- In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 1/3 cup warm water.
- Combine the gelatin, sugar, cream, milk, zest, mint, lavender, thyme and fennel seeds in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until steaming.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for about 30 minutes to allow the herbs to infuse.
- Strain the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the salt.
- Slice a quarter off the top of each lemon and scoop out the flesh using a spoon or your fingernails to gently ease the flesh apart from the pith. Be careful not to break the lemon skin.
- If the base of the lemon doesn’t sit flat, slice a very small amount off the knob on the base of the lemon so that it sits upright.
- Put the hollowed-out lemons in a baking dish and pour the milk mixture until they are almost filled to the top.
- Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, until set.