Aug 16 2010

Eat Dessert First

Published by at 10:12 pm under Dessert

It’s no accident that even when there is absolutely no time to spend an hour cooking dinner, dessert always seems like a manageable time commitment. Such was the case the other night when I threw together a spinach salad, starving, and was fully nourished by 7:45 — and found myself with most of the evening left to spare. Naturally, I elected to spend my time wisely, ensuring that more eating would happen later.

“Later” being the operative word here. Even when my assistant and I decided we couldn’t go much longer without panna cotta on our taste buds, the laws of physics demand that one must wait to enjoy it until the next day (or at least four hours, but who makes panna cotta during the day?) It’s torturous and unfair, but everyone likes to have something to look forward to.

And in fact, this panna cotta takes no time at all to prepare. It’s just the refrigeration time that’s lengthy, but you can spend that sleeping. We stuck it in the fridge the night before and waited until the next day to whip up the fruit compote, which also takes literally no time at all, which makes it perfect for entertaining. Just pull it out of the fridge, take 10 minutes to let the compote simmer, and you’re ready to plate.

No one’s a bigger proponent of instant gratification than I am, but it’s true that some things are worth waiting for. Especially the sweet ones.

Oh, and I may have had seconds.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry Balsamic Compote

(Adapted from A16’s Honey Panna Cotta)

Ingredients (Serves 6):

2 tsp. powdered gelatin

2 tbsp. cool water

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1.5 tsp. vanilla

1 cup frozen raspberries

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

12 blackberries (or preferred fruit)

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl and let sit for 3 minutes. Heat 1 cup of heavy cream in a small pot until warm, then add sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, add in gelatin mixture, and stir in the remaining 1 cup cream slowly.

Divide the mixture among 6 cups in a muffin pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Heat raspberries, vinegar, water and sugar in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir and let simmer for about 10 minutes or until reduced to a slightly chunky syrup.

While compote simmers, remove panna cotta from refrigerator and uncover. Fill a wide and deep baking pan with about 1/2 in. warm water (I used one 9 in. by 13 in.) Place the bottom of the muffin pan in the water for 15 seconds, then remove.

*Note: The warm water should melt the panna cotta slightly, but just enough so that it’s easy to remove from the pan. I made the mistake of leaving it in too long once, and the panna cotta melted too much, with the cream becoming runny. For best results, err on the side of leaving it in too shortly, because you can always submerge it for a few more seconds.

Find a plate or serving dish large enough to cover the whole muffin pan. Place it on top of the muffin pan, pick both pans up, holding them tightly together, and flip quickly. The panna cotta should come out of the pan and settle neatly on the plate.

Use a thin, sharp spatula to transfer panna cottas to plates, and spoon the compote evenly over each one. Top each panna cotta with 2 blackberries, or another fruit of your choosing.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Eat Dessert First”

  1. Sharonon 20 Aug 2010 at 3:28 am

    That looks fabulous…a must try…….

  2. Livon 20 Aug 2010 at 1:28 pm

    We’ll have to try it during your visit and vary the toppings a bit 🙂