Who prefers light desserts to heavy puddings? I do; particularly during the festive holiday season when the odd additional course creeps in to ambitious holiday menus. This cheeky light little number has been a surprising hit when entertaining. On top of that, it’s gluten-free.
Perhaps not everyone wants such a light, mini dessert. “What? Is that it?” So cue the macaron. Or two; or three; or six (I never could count.) Et voilà – let’s keep all our holiday elves happy: those watching their waistlines can have a dainty sweet ending, while the others don’t need to let it end and can help themselves to a tray of macarons on the side. No guesses which characteristics are male or female…
I call these pas-de-panique panna cottas since they’re so quick to make and deliciously versatile. Serve them in stemmed glasses and you have a light and tasty dessert; serve them in small shot glasses (the French call them verrines, invented by Philippe Conticini of the Pâtisserie des Rêves) and you have great little party desserts.
However, add a few Parisian macarons and they’re instantly transported to seriously chic French elegance. Accompany them with exotic fruit & coconut macarons, chocolate & exotic fruit macarons (see page 89 of the book) or even chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56.)
I found a classic panna cotta recipe in the Elle magazine at the hairdressers recently – don’t ask me any more information, as I was more interested in Matthew, my coiffeur, scalping me instead of what I think I had asked for. Somehow my French at the hairdressers has never improved. Another story. What I loved was that the recipe was lightly infused with cardamom. It just needed Jilled (we all love adding our own personal note, n’est-ce pas?) So I added a touch of stemmed ginger (who else is a ginger addict as well as macaronivore?) and passion fruit – especially as we’re spoiled for choice with exotic fruits at the farmers’ markets just now.
Dig through the passionfruit and taste a cardamom-infused velvety cream, then hit a glacé ginger layer at the bottom for an extra surprising finale.
Passion Fruit, Cardamom and Ginger Panna Cotta
Serves 8 verrines or 4 medium stemmed glasses
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
3 gelatine leaves (2g each)
400 ml single cream
100 ml whole milk
4 tbsps caster sugar
12 cardamom pods
1 tbsp glacé ginger
- Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5-6 minutes.
- Heat together the cream and milk in a pan with the cardamom pods and the sugar.
- Crush the pods with the back of a spoon to release the grains, then strain out the pod skins.
- Squeeze in the gelatine and stir to dissolve into the warm cream.
- Place ginger cubes at the bottom of each serving glass and pour on the cream.
- Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, spoon on the pulp of half a passionfruit on each pannacotta.
There is no end to the variations you can make with this easy dessert.
For example, try lemon and ginger pannacottas: simply replace the cardamom with the finely grated rind of an untreated lemon and serve with lemon meringue macarons (page 41).
Just let your imagination take over and have fun.