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Rosemary Panna Cotta

March 16th, 2009

It began as a quest to make the perfect panna cotta for our foodlove dinner. After considering many unusual ingredients (fennel, white pepper, olive oil and peppercorns), we settled on Rosemary, Lemon Panna Cotta. For me, Panna Cotta is as much about the flavor (read: Good start with the best ingredients) as it is the texture. I couldn’t get a hold of gelatin leaf, which apparently is widely used by bakers and in Europe and was recommended by Colleen. So I had substituted the only and next best thing, Knox Gelatin.

Before beginning, or to be honest after a failed first attempt, I came across a blog called The Tasting Menu that had an entry Perfecting Panna Cotta. This was exactly the thoughtful explanation and recipe I was after. It discussed the chemistry of the process and helped me to appreciate how being careful about all the different temperatures would create the best texture. Perfecting panna cotta would also require a lot of patience (and some extra time), but was well worth each careful step, it’s by far the most delicious panna cotta I’ve made.

Steeping.

Steeping.

Instead of the sheet/leaf gelatin, I used 1.5 tsps gelatin. Following is how I adapted Dana’s recipe to my own (thanks Dana!).

Rosemary Lemon Panna Cotta (adapted from Perfecting Panna Cotta)

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

zest of one lemon

2 Rosemary Sprigs

1 Vanilla Bean, cut in half and scraped

3 cups cream, 1/2 cup held very cold

1.5 tsp gelatin

Preparing:

Place 1/2 cup of cream in the bowl you intend to whip it in, and place it in the refrigerator along with the whisk you intend to whisk it with.

Gather six 6-oz serving dishes or desired molds, lightly oil.

1. Steep the milk with the sugar and flavors. Place the milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla bean and rosemary sprigs (spank the sprigs in your hands to release the flavors) in a small sauce pan and heat just below boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and steep for half an hour.

2. Prepare the gelatin. When the milk has steeped for 20 minutes, sprinkle the 1.5 tsps. gelatin over 2T cold water in a heat proof ramekin. Let gelatin stand until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Place the heatproof gelatin ramekin in a pot of simmering water (make sure water is well below edge of ramekin), and stir until the gelatin dissolves and the liquid is clearish. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Add the gelatin. Strain the milk, and return to a sauce pan, rewarming the milk. Add the gelatin to the warm milk, and stir until completely dissolved and evenly dispersed. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour.

3. Whip the cream. When the milk is cooled, begin whipping the 1/2 cup of very cold cream. Do this with gentle back and forth motions of the whisk, avoiding beating much air into the cream. You should see the cream begin to thicken in a minute or two, once the fat globules are damaged enough to adhere to each other. Continue gently agitating the cream with the whisk, stopping when the cream is thick enough to hold itself, but doesn’t quite hold peaks.

4. Add the cream to the cooled milk/gelatin. Add the unwhipped cream to the milk/gelatin mixture that has cooled on the counter with a whisk. Carefully now, add the whisk thickened cream and fold with a spatula until the two are evenly combined.

5. Fill the molds or serving dishes. Pour the panna cotta into the dishes or molds quickly, as the cold from the cream will now begin to fully set the gelatin. You will see the mixture is thick, and may need to tap the glasses a bit to obtain a flat top, or use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the molds.

6. Chill the Panna Cotta. Place the panna cotta in the refrigerator and allow to set overnight. It will take a full day of setting to achieve the propper texture.

I slipped the panna cottas out of their molds and onto plates and topped with three homemade candied meyer lemon zest curls.

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