Monday, October 10, 2016

Cool summer desserts

Panna Cotta

Visiting the US in September when daytime temperatures hovered around the high 30Cs reminded me how refreshing the most simple of desserts can be when temperatures soar.
What better way to end a meal on a high than with the refreshingly simple combination of panna cotta and summer fruits.
So here is one of my favourite summer recipes.


75ml full cream milk
30g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (including scraped seeds)
2 gold-strength gelatine leaves (4g) (soaked and drained)
175ml thickened cream


Heat milk, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium to low heat.
Bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
Stir in soaked gelatine.
Add cream. Stir. Strain mixture into a small container and leave to set in the refrigerator (about 2 hours or overnight).

To serve:

Using a hot spoon, form quenelles of panna cotta.
Place two quenelles in each bowl, add a selection of summer berries and serve. I usually use a combination of sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, small pineapple wedges or small balls of watermelon. But any fruit selection can be used, including poached peaches, apricots, pears and apples.

What is a quenelle?

A quenelle is an oval-shaped scoop. Quenelling is simply a neater way to present soft desserts that will hold their shape, such as panna cotta, mousse and icecream. Plain old-fashioned scoops with a spoon taste as good but quenelles done well look more elegant. A bit like the difference between dishing up icecream with a spoon and an 'icecream scoop'.

To form a quenelle, warm a dessert spoon in hot water, hold it upside down just above the panna cotta that has been refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Then in one movement scoop and twist the spoon through the set dessert to form an oval scoop the size and shape of two spoons joined.
For larger quenelles use a tablespoon.