An easy dessert that’s light and refreshing!
Although I first tasted panna cotta years ago in Italy, for some reason I never tried making it till last year, when I first prepared this scrumptious blackberry-mint version. Since then I’ve made it often, using up whatever fruit I had on hand. If you’re not familiar with this pudding-style treat, its name means ‘cooked cream’ (although truthfully, it’s only steamed). Its delicate flavour, barely-there sweetness and light texture make it an excellent dessert to enjoy after a rich meal.
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) finely chopped rhubarb stalks
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) sliced strawberries
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
- 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) heavy (whipping) cream
- 4 teaspoons (20 mL) cold water
- 3/4 teaspoon (7.5 mL) gelatin powder *
- Halved strawberries, to garnish
*if you prefer you can use agar agar, a seaweed-based gelatin; follow package directions for appropriate substitution amount.
- In a medium-sized pot, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water and place over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally while the sugar dissolves. Place a lid on the pot and increase heat to medium; cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb and strawberries have softened completely (about 8 – 10 minutes).
- Take the lid off the pot and add the cream to the fruit mixture and allow it to warm over medium heat, stirring often. Do not let it come to a boil – you want it to be just steaming (about 170F).
- When it begins to steam, remove pot from heat and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, combine the cold water and gelatin in a 2 cup / 500 mL glass measure or other heatproof jug.
- Return the cream and fruit to medium heat, bringing it just to the steaming point again.
- Place a fine-meshed strainer over the vessel that has the gelatin mixture in it (if you don’t have a fine-meshed strainer, line yours with several layers of cheesecloth.
- Pour the hot cream and fruit through the strainer into the container. Press down on the fruit to extract as much of the juice as you can, without pressing seeds through the strainer or cheesecloth. Discard the fruit pulp.
- Stir the panna cotta mixture a few times so that the gelatin gets thoroughly mixed it, then pour or ladle the mixture into two or three small serving dishes.
- Let set in the fridge for a few hours.
- Note that panna cotta can be made up to 24 hours before serving; it’s a good idea to cover the serving dishes with plastic or beeswax wraps once they’ve cooled so the surface does not dry out.
- When ready to serve, garnish with halved strawberries.
Serves 2 – 3; recipe can easily be doubled.