Summer in February : VANILLA BEAN PANNA COTTA WITH PASSION FRUIT

Panna cotta at this time of the year? You want to be hearing about hearty, comforting desserts and warmth-inducing drink recipes. Unfortunately, Chennai as we know it has a completely different season shift – hot, hotter, hottest. We are at the moment slowly but steadily gliding from the ‘hot’ to the ‘hotter’ threshold, with the sun shining bright and the fans whirring out of control.

I can be very predictable when it comes to dessert choices. Fruity over chocolaty. Fruity over nutty..you get it. If you know me well, you’d know that I’d go with fruit or caramel desserts over chocolate any day of the week. My favourite ice-cream flavours are blackcurrant, strawberry and vanilla and I don’t think I’ve ever ordered chocolate ice-cream in my life! Although I claim not to be too much of a chocoholic, I do have a few favourites that I’d indulge in anytime though (read : molten lava cake – I have a great recipe too to share with you!)

This is a dessert you can whip up in under 30 minutes, and the fact that it has to chill in the refrigerator for more than 6 hours can only be a good thing – you get to make it well ahead of time and all that’s left to do is unmould and serve straight away! The addition of yogurt makes it incredibly luscious, and also very delicate. So, if you’re not sure about flipping it out onto a plate, set them in individual ramekins/glasses and scoop over some fruit on top. Small mason jars with a ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle look really pretty too.

The sourness of the passion fruit against the richness of the panna cotta is a perfect balance, and I’ve further upped the tartness quotient with a fresh spritz of lime. You could omit this step or add a generous splosh of Malibu instead. Follow your own adventure.

(After you strain out the panna cotta mixture, rinse the vanilla bean and dry it out in the sun or in a warm place for a few hours. Stick it in a bowl of castor sugar for an instant vanilla-sugar fix..perfect with a hot bowl of bread and milk).

 
INGREDIENTS: (Serves 4)

Adapted from Michael Symon

Single cream – 1 ¼ cups

Whole milk – ½ cup

Whole milk yogurt – ¼ cup

Gelatin – 1 tsp

Castor sugar – ¼ cup

Half a vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Lime juice – 1 ½ tsp

To garnish : Passion fruit pulp

 

METHOD:

Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave and soak the gelatin in it for about 5 minutes.

Place the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan and bring to a simmer (do not let it boil).

Add the milk and gelatin to the pan, and take off the heat. Stir through until the gelatin dissolves completely. Set aside to cool slightly, and then mix in the yogurt.

Sieve the mixture into another bowl and refrigerate until the panna cotta mixture cools down completely (about 15 minutes).

Note : This step is crucial – if you pour in the mixture straight-away into your ramekins, the vanilla beans will sink to the bottom and the yogurt might split.

After it has been cooled, whisk it through and add in the lime juice. Pour into your ramekins and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or over-night.

Dip each ramekin in a bowl of warm water and invert onto your plate. Garnish each with passion fruit and serve chilled.

 

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