Thursday, May 24, 2007

tonka bean panna cotta with vanilla crumble and mandarin orange sorbet

This month's Sugar High Friday is hosted by the lovely and talented Tara of Seven Spoons. For this month's SHF #31 Tara asked food bloggers to meditate on the idea of using "Shades of White". As Tara writes "Participation is simple; make a dessert featuring your chosen hue of white. Anything from the palest of champagne ices to frothy zabaglione to the barest tan of hazelnut cookies. Or let the character of form inspire; are you drawn to the simple elegance of blancmange, or the childhood taste of marshmallow, or the towering excess of a meringue crowned pie? The possibilities are endless."

tonka bean panna cotta:

2 Tbsp cold water
1 3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup homogenized milk
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp of grated tonka bean

Pour 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let it stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Combine heavy cream, milk, sugar and the grated tonka bean in a saucepan, and place over medium heat. Let the grated tonka bean infuse in the cream for at least 5 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then take it off the heat. Add the softened gelatin and mix until the gelatin has dissolved. Strain through a fine chinios/strainer into a new bowl and discard the grated tonka. Chill over an ice bath just until cool. Pour into small moulds, bowls, glasses or ramekins and chill for at least 3 hours. Makes approximately 8, 1/2 cup servings. It is probably a good idea to make this a day ahead as gelatin never sets as quickly as we might wish.

5 tips on making panna cotta:

1. Purchase good quality ingredients, as there are usually only 3-5 of them in a panna cotta.
2. The exact amount of gelatin is crucial! If you add too much, you will have the consistency of jello, and if you add too little, you will have a limp liquid cream. The consistency should be a soft, silky cream that is slightly set, almost too delicate to handle.
3. If you are de-moulding the panna cotta, dip the mould in warm water to release it. If the water is too hot, the panna cotta will melt. When de-moulding, take your time, be gentle, and carefully loosen the edges with slightly wet fingers so that you can wiggle it out.
4. If you are de-moulding your panna cotta, make some tuile cookies in the shape of the base of your pannacotta (e.g. if you are making a round panna cotta, make circle tuile cookies). Place the cookie on the bottom of your panna cotta so that, when you invert the mold, the panna cotta rests on the cookie. This will help you transfer the panna cotta onto the plate without denting or destroying the delicate and silky cream. The cookie will also give you a nice crunch, which will provide contrast to the softness of your panna cotta.
5. If you are wanting to pair a jelly or fruit with your panna cotta, pick a flavour that will compliment, stand up to or help cut the intensity of this creamy dessert.