Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis

Panna Cotta is a quick and simple dessert that doesn't take long to make, and tastes great. You just have to wait a while whilst it sets.

You only have to watch a episode of Masterchef and someone will be making a Panna Cotta. Many fail to end up with one that sets, I can only assume that this is down to time. After all, you're trying to get a nearly boiling liquid down to fridge temperature in a very short period of time and without freezing it! Surely they realise this? Maybe this is the challenge? If you think about it, it's rarely going to work. Cooling requires time and it's not something that can't be speeded up easily. If I remember rightly from school lessons, the cooling effect is exponential decay dependant upon a liquids surroundings, Newton's law of cooling. I may have to write an article on cooling a Panna Cotta scientifically. If you can't be bothered to do the maths, give yourself time. It will work!

NB: Please remember that gelatine is an animal product and therefore not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. You can use vegetarian gelatine, however I find the results are a little suspect.

Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe

Panna Cotta ingredients

½ pint cream

½ pint full fat milk

4 leaves of gelatine

one vanilla pod

1 ¼ oz caster sugar

So, to work out your volumes, it's basically 50-50 cream and milk. Then one vanilla pod, 4 leaves of gelatine and 1 ¼ oz of sugar per pint. Since working in a bakery I find using lbs and oz easier, a lot of recipes were designed using these weights, so generally it's easier to remember. It would be good to try and use them. I'm still trying to convert some recipes that I use into metric just in case there aren't imperial scales available. You'll also see the equation when you see the strawberry coulis recipe.

Put the milk & cream in a saucepan over a low heat, at the same time dunk the gelatine leaves in cold water to soak.

Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, add these to the milk and cream. Add the sugar too, and bring the mixture to just a light simmer and turn off the heat.

Vanilla Panna Cotta - Vanilla Pod Seeds

Squeeze out the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the milk, making sure that they have dissolved. Pour the mixture into moulds of your choice. Chill in the fridge until set, normally takes 3 hours. You can do this the night before to make sure, which can be a good idea. Also takes one job away from meal time.

To serve, release the Panna Cotta from their moulds, you may have to heat the sides. I normally boil the kettle, and put boiling water into a bowl so that I can lower the moulds in. This should heat the sides enough to let them slip out if you have a problem.


Strawberry Sauce (Strawberry Coulis) ingredients

You'll need a hand blender.

Ingredients are measured by the weight of your fruit, in this case strawberries.

The ratio is fruit = ½ water = ¼ sugar

So in this instance I had nearly 8 oz of strawberries, therefore 4 fl oz water and 2 oz sugar (caster)

Pop the water into your saucepan and put the heat on medium-low. Add in the sugar. Top and chop the strawberries and put into the pan. Once they've come to a simmer and you can smell the gorgeous strawberry scent use and hand blender to liquidise the mixture. Continue to simmer until the sauce has become a little thick then transfer to a bowl or gravy boat to cool for service. Leave to cool and then put into the fridge until required.