6 March 2013

Panna Cotta with Italian Amarena Cherries


Panna Cotta with Italian Amarena Cherries

Italian panna cotta (cooked cream) is just the type of recipe home cooks look for. It's versatile, simple and, of course, delicious. Although I have had it on my culinary bucket list for many years I have never attempted to make it in my own kitchen. Perhaps this was because I have had one too many rubbery, unsuccessful concoctions placed before me. I was hoping I would learn its secrets and master its preparation during my cooking classes in Italy but recipes like Panna Cotta and polenta remained elusive. With no room for failure I finally decided to give it a try in my home kitchen. I learned it was the easiest possible recipe for an impressive dessert.

As I mentioned, Panna Cotta is all about the texture. It should be lightly wobbly not rigid, not what I call "rubber mallet Panna Cotta." It gets that way if you make it too far ahead and if it is too long in the fridge. You can make it up to a day ahead, and if you do, place plastic wrap close to the surface once it has set well, to prevent a leathery skin forming on what will be the base. Also make sure to remove it from the fridge 10 to 20 minutes before serving if it has been in the fridge over night.
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“Of course I made many boo-boos.
At first this broke my heart,
but then I came to understand that learning how to fix one’s mistakes,
or live with them,
was an important part of becoming a cook.”

~ Julia Child, My Life in France
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Even so Panna Cotta is one of those great desserts that you can make ahead of time. It's quick and easy and can be served in any pretty glass. When I made this recipe, I had some mixture left over, which I poured into small ramekins. You can also pour the Panna Cotta into coffee cups or espresso cups for a really fun presentation. Straight from Northern Italy, Panna Cotta will satisfy your midnight craving for sweets. If your stomach is really rumbling, just eat the Panna Cotta with a spoon straight from the pan!

I served these tender offerings with Italian Amarena cherries. These luscious and intensely flavourful cherries from the province of Emilia-Romagna are one of the most sought after all over Europe. The Fabbri family has been producing these luxurious wild cherries in syrup since 1905 from the guarded original recipe of founder Gennaro Fabbri. The local wild cherries which are a dark red variety with a sweet and slightly bitter flavour are preserved in a rich syrup made from the juice of the same fruit.

This delicate, silky cream is as easy to make as a piece of toast. This particular recipe was based on one from Carmelita at cookitaly.com. Give it a try, don't let it sit too long, and serve it with sliced fruit, berries or with some caramel or chocolate sauce...or better yet with a jar of Amarena cherries from Italy.

 **Panna Cotta with Italian Amarena Cherries**

360 ml cream (1-1/2 cups) they only have one kind of fresh cream in Italy, it is a whippable pouring cream
90 ml  (3/4 cup) milk, any kind
85 g (3/4 cup) sugar
1/2 stick vanilla pod
3 x 2 g sheets of leaf gelatin (titanium strength) or 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin

Put the sheets of leaf gelatin to soak in cold water, in a small bowl, until they become very soft and jelly like in consistency. Do not do this too early as the gelatin leaves can get too soft in which case they'll give their "gelling power" to the soaking water and your Panna Cotta will never set. For powdered gelatin, sprinkle on top of 45 ml / 3 tablespoons cold water until it becomes spongy and foamy.

Gently heat the milk, sugar and cream together, to dissolve sugar. Butterfly the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. Be very careful not to let the mixture come to the boil. Though the Italian name translates as "cooked cream", the cream is barely "cooked" and it absolutely must not boil.

Squeeze out the leaf gelatin and add it (or the spongy powdered gelatin) to the milk/cream mixture off the heat. Stir at once to dissolve the gelatin completely. Allow the cream/milk mixture to cool until it starts to set a little, by which time it should be just tepid.

Using cold water, rinse out some small smooth molds, ideally metal ones, and shake excess out. Fill them carefully with the mixture - you can fill to the top - and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firmly set.

To turn out for serving, loosen all round the top with the tip of a thin bladed sharp knife - do not poke down, you only need to release the top rim. Place a dessert plate on top of each mold and up-end the sweet on to the plate. You may need to tap firmly on the bottom and to give the mold a very firm shake or two. When placing the plate on top, position it carefully so the Panna Cotta "lands" exactly where you want it to, centrally or a little to one side. You will not be able to change its position once it is on the plate.

If tapping is not sufficient to turn out the sweet, you may need to dip each mold briefly in hot water (or wrap it in a cloth dipped in very hot water and wrung out). Ease it out carefully with the help of a thin bladed metal spatula or knife if necessary.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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34 comments:

  1. Val , this looks incredibly delicious, I ran right over to Amazon and ordered those cherries !
    Sandy

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  2. You've never made panna cotta? It's one of my favorite desserts to make.

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    1. It did not appeal to me since I had had only bad rubbery ones.

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  3. Val, this is one of our favorite desserts and your version looks really special. Bob would love this. I hope you've had a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  4. Exquisite and refined tasting! A wonderful dessert.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Hi Val, A long time ago, I was given a jar of those special Italian cherries as a gift. They were amazing, and I saved the pretty shaped jar afterwards. I know they would be delicious served with your lovely panna cotta. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

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  6. Panna cotta is such a light and lovely dessert. I especially like that you added the cherries.

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  7. Simple and delicious perfectly describe the kind of desserts I love. This looks fabulous Val, And what a pretty jar of Italian Amarena cherries. I would definitely have to keep that jar and find a use for it.

    Have a great weekend.
    Sam

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  8. Interesting as I, too, have avoided preparing panna cotta and polenta out of "kitchen fear". You are sorely tempting me with this dish. Now, how about polenta?

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    Replies
    1. I'm hoping to get my friend to teach me how to make polenta, which I will turn into oven baked polenta fries. Of course I could teach myself with a good recipe and the proper ingredients.

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  9. Mmmm, That looks dreamy Val, I need those cherries asap!

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  10. You just brought me back with those cherries! I haven't had those in ages. Panna cotta is such a classic, I love it.

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  11. I've always wanted to try my hand at panna cotta but you're right - it seems so intimidating! your good experience making it is giving me some motivation though!

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  12. Val, I love this! I've never made it, but love anything with cherries so I have to try this. Thanks for the recipe!!!

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  13. Although I have eaten panna cotta before, I've not made it because there are veggies in my household who won't eat gelatin. It looks lovely and I would wolf it down!

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  14. Impressive and beautiful presentation. Me, a savory gal, but put this in front of me, and well ... you really have away with food.

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  15. I only tried to do panna cotta once and it kind of failed. You inspired me to try again. I'm glad you didn't use yogurt as so many recipes do

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  16. This recipe is on my bucket list as well. I'll have to give it a try. Those cherries look wonderful. Where did you get them...on your trip?

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    1. I am sure they sold them in Italy but I have been meaning to try them from our local Italian grocer. They are available on line as well, even in much larger jars.

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  17. This is one of my very favorite desserts, Val. :-) I'm looking forward to trying your version, as I still tend to end up with something that is too stiff for my liking. I remember a restaurant in Vogogna, Italy where I would order the caramel panna cotta every single night. So good. :-)

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  18. Gosh this sounds good. I've not eaten much panna cotta but now it's all I can think about.

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  19. panna cotta is so slick and smooth and creamy and delicious. those cherries look ready to positively explode with juices--marvelous!

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  20. As much as I enjoy this dessert I have never made it at home. This would be perfect with the summer berries that will start appearing in the farmers' market in a couple of months. Or with those beautiful cherries. You have inspired me to make it at home, Val.

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  21. Looks delicious! Anything with cherries, from savoury to sweet, is a temptation of mine.
    I was looking for a recipe to try tonight to occupy my time on a night alone. Although I am tempted to indulge in some of Sandrine's (a local French pastry shop) pastries or chocolate too...

    Murissa

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  22. Looks just lovely! I'm off sweets for Lent so looking at this gives me such a craving! Love it, love it, love it!!! Have always wondered what the difference is between creme brulee and panna cotta. I know its the texture but its about the same isnt it???

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    1. Hey Dharm. I love creme brûlée. My recipe requires over 6 eggs so I think it is more like a firmer custard than panna cotta which uses gelatine. With creme brulee there is also a ban marie or water bath in the oven. Then there is the piece de resistance of the crackly topping of the creme brûlée...I must make one again soon. Panna cotta is so much easier but I must admit that a creme brûlée has a creamy texture I LOVE.

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  23. Hi Val! What a lovely post! I enjoyed reading all of it complete with your fab photo! Super! Thank you.

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  24. Your panna cotta turned out perfect, and it looks divine with those cherries. I want a jar of those!

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  25. I love panna cotta! And I love Italian cherries even more! I had no idea how delicious the cherries from Italy are until my visit this summer! And I love the preserved fruit from the Fabbri family / company. My daughter gave me the 'fragoli' strawberries for Mother's Day. The best cherry jam is all devoured now after my visit to my home-town of Montecreto, Emilgia-Romagna . . . I saved all of the jars so that I can hopefully figure out how to purchase it and have it shipped to the States!

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  26. Hi there, Its always great to see your exciting recipes. And this one is just looking Amazing. I am so tempted to try it pretty soon. Have a wonderful week ahead. Thanks for sharing awesome recipes.
    Best Regards, Sonia !!!

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  27. Love the preserve and the panacootta looks stunning and delicious.VERY ITALIAN

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  28. What lovely panacotta Val and beautiful jar!!!

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  29. One of my favorite desserts, but I usually make it at home, so I haven't had the rubbery ones. Love the cherries you used. I'm glad you had success this time and I'm sure you will want to make it over and over again.
    -Gina-

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  30. Great idea to use those amarena cherries with the panna cotta. I've got a container of them and am glad to have this new way to use them.

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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