I had my elderflowers, my gelatin, my pint of whipping cream. I had nothing but time on my hands, ergo I had panna cotta.
My first attempt at homemade panna cotta last week turned out so well that it inspired me to revisit it and make a little more (plus finding those elderflowers really didn’t hurt my chances either). On top of all that, the below average mid-May temperatures ensured I wouldn’t be spending my time planting out the garden over the weekend, so I was on the lookout for other things to do. Panna cotta seemed like an agreeable task.
I chose the same basic formula as I’d used previously, but altered it a little to compensate for an ingredient I ran out of (honey). Once again I stuffed the teaball full of dried plant matter, and when the milk, cream, honey and sugar were warmed and cohesive, I dropped the ball in and let it have a bath. After 20 minutes there was no visible difference save a few dark speckles from the dried elderflowers, but once I dipped a spoon in for a taste test, I saw how hasty a judgement that had been. The flavors were at once tart, then sweet and floral, with an endnote I couldn’t quite put my finger on. If tastes could be a color, this one would be the lightest shade of lilac purple.
After blooming a few sheets of gelatin, I stirred them into the slightly cooled cream mixture and portioned the cream into a few stainless steel ramekins to set.
As promised and only partly due to an abundance of whipping cream, I embarked on a panna cotta panoply yesterday.
For those who might not be aware, panna cotta is a gelatinized pudding-like dessert; one that I only recently learned to enjoy. After an amazing orange blossom version (another anomaly since I despise oranges) at Cowbell, I realized the reason I’d been so turned off in the past was simply due to a heavy hand with gelatin. Anything overly wobbly or exhibiting a skin was definite cause for a pass, but I endeavored to expand my horizons and try creating them at home.
When we visited Cheese Boutique recently as part of our ramp adventure, I managed to stock up on a few uncommon flavor extracts with the express purpose of preparing panna cotta. But after considering my options (which included chocolate, rosewater and orange blossom extracts) I chose 100 Mysteries instead. The two flavors I most wanted to test drive were unavailable and still being tracked down (elderflower and hibiscus) so tea seemed like an acceptable second fiddle.
I brewed a pot of cream with a tea ball full of the exquisite tisane, and allowed it to steep while maintaining the barest simmer for 20 minutes. The recipe I used as a starting point called for a little honey, and in my naivete I thought that honeycomb would work just as well. The flavor of the honeycomb was fine, but once the cream reached a certain temperature the beeswax melted and formed a slightly oily film that had to be extracted using the utmost care. Once that disaster was averted, the rest was smooth sailing. After the interval for brewing, bloomed gelatin sheets were stirred in, and the cream was dispatched into 4 dainty, fluted ramekins. Following a slight dissipation of heat, the puddings were left in the fridge for a few hours to take a chilly catnap.