Here’s how you can serve up this restaurant-style creamy dessert – and your guests won’t have to know how simple it is.
Vanilla Panna Cotta With Poached Pears
Prep & Cook 40 mins (plus cooling and setting) / Serves 4
4 (6.6 g) white edible gelatine leaves ,2 vanilla beans, 800 ml cream, ½ cup caster sugar, Thick strip of lemon peel POACHED PEARS, 3 small (450 g) firm pears ,2 cups water ,½ cup caster sugar, ¼ cup honey, 3 thick strips of lemon peel.
1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for about 5 mins, to soften.
2. Split vanilla beans in half; scrape out seeds. Place cream, sugar, seeds and pods, and lemon peel into a saucepan; whisk gently to dispense seeds. Don’t let mixture boil or the butterfat will separate, leaving droplets on the surface. Remove cream mixture from heat.
3. With your hand, drain excess water from gelatine leaves and stir into hot cream mixture until dissolved. This will only take a minute.
4. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug and allow it to cool in fridge, stirring occasionally, for about 30 mins or until it starts to thicken. Alternatively, place the jug into an ice water bath, to chill and thicken the cream mixture. This will suspend the tiny vanilla seeds evenly throughout the mixture.
5. Lightly spray 6 125-ml capacity plastic dariole moulds with cooking oil spray. Wipe out the excess with a paper towel; place the moulds on a tray. Pour the cream mixture evenly among the moulds. Place moulds in the fridge for about 3 to 4 mins or until set.
6. POACHED PEAR S To prepare poached pears, peel, quarter and core pears (leave stems on where possible). Place pears in a medium saucepan with water, sugar, honey and lemon; bring to the boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered with a round of baking paper, for 25 mins or until pears are tender.
7. U sing a slotted spoon remove pears from syrup. Boil the syrup until reduced to ¾ cup; discard lemon peel.
8. To unmould, press down lightly, using your thumb. Squeeze the edges of the mould to create an air bubble. The panna cotta will now be easy to turn out onto plates. Serve with pears and syrup.
If you prefer to use powdered gelatine, you will need 3½ level tsps. To dissolve powdered gelatine, add 2 tbsps of cold water to a small bowl or cup and sprinkle over gelatine. Place the cup into a pan of barely simmering water until the gelatine dissolves completely and it becomes transparent. Add the dissolved gelatine to the mixture through a small strainer to remove any undissolved bits.
You can also make panna cotta in wine glasses. Use slightly less gelatine for a silky smooth texture as there is no need to unmould them.
You can also skip the poached pears step and serve the panna cotta with fresh berries or a hot fudge sauce on top.
Photos: John Paul Urizar/bauersyndication.com.au.