14 February 2011

Panna Cotta al Nocino

Happy Valentines Day!  
If you are looking for a simple but utterly divine dessert to make for your Valentine tonight, do make this   early enough today to serve tonight. It only takes a few minutes to pull together once you have some high quality cream and sheet gelatin. It doesn't need the hazenut liqueur as this traditional Piemontese delight is all about showcasing the ultra smooth creaminess of this sensuous delight. I have been asked for this dessert a number of times, so here you go. Just make sure you use the absolute highest quality of cream you can find, for dreamy dessert that literally melts in your mouth. I have found that oftentimes this dessert is made with far too much gelatin and it really doesn't do this dessert justice. It will be a wobbly quivering mass when you unmold it onto your plate, but be fearless. Don't let a little wobble scare you. I usually unmold it into my hand briefly on its way to the plate as it sometimes can be slightly stubborn releasing from its mold. It's well worth a moment or two of anxiety for the pleasure of this sumptuous silken grand finale that ensues.
Enjoy this with soft candlelight, music, Moscato wine and someone that you love!

Panna Cotta al Nocino

8 generous portions 
You can make these smaller portions as well
The recipe can be halved or even quartered with good results

850 g heavy cream, here we like to use Elena, a thick local brand
250 g milk
150 g sugar
7-8 g (2 ½ long sheets) sheet gelatin (fish gelatin/colla di pesce)
60 g Nocino, walnut liqueur, or hazelnut or chocolate

MethodSoften the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water.
Meanwhile heat the cream, milk and sugar to just under the boiling point.
Use the highest quality of cream that you can find, as it is the main ingredient and inferior quality will make for a disappointing result. The higher the butter fat content the richer and creamier the panna cotta.
Remove the cream mixture from heat.
Drain the gelatin and squeeze excess water from the gelatin which will now be a jiggly mass.
Add the gelatin to the cream and stir until dissolved. If you have allowed the cream to cool too much, just put it on the heat again and stir till the gelatin dissolves.
You do not want it to boil at this point, just to insure the gelatin dissolves.
Add your walnut or desired flavoring to the mixture and stir to distribute.
Pour into metal panna cotta cups/cyclinders (ungreased, no preparation to the cups other than being clean) to cool to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator to set up.
To serve, run a thin knife around the edges and turn onto your plate.
Garnish, or not, and enjoy every dreamy bite as you are  transported to a higher place.

Cooks notes*
I must confess, that I haven’t found or bought proper panna cotta cups, as they are either too tall, too large a serving or whatever, so my little secret is I use a heavy plastic reused container, like individual yogurt cups. We use to use small plastic drinking glasses when we use to do large catering functions and needed hundreds of cups. They work great.
The panna cotta needs to chill for a good while. It will vary with the temperature of your refrigerator and the thickness of your cream, etc. It can be 4 hours or over night and will hold for several days in the refrigerator to serve as needed.
When serving, make sure to unmold just before serving because it is a bit wobbly and you don’t want it to melt. The wobble is a good thing.
Also, if you use any sauce, even though it really doesn’t need anything,  as it is quite rich and creamy dreamy melt in your mouth. You don’t want to detract from the simplicity and subtle flavor of this dessert, but if you do add a sauce  for a lovely presentation or contrast in flavor, make sure you do not pour it over the top of the desert, as it will split the cream in two.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Panna cotta is on my culinary bucket list of dishes to make. Happy Valentine's day!!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That looks so pretty!

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