Lemon Panna Cotta w/ bay leaf white chocolate mousse and roasted rhubarb

Every so often I’ll invite Cameron’s parents over to my place for dinner, wherein I unleash a three coarse feat upon them. Aside from just enjoying their company, it’s also a little way of saying thanks for everything they do for me in the best way I know how. I also just love cooking for Cam’s immediate family in general because they love such a wide variety of cuisine and will try just about everything, quite unlike my family. This time we moved the dinner to lunch time, as it’s the middle of winter here and the long drive between my place and theirs is less appealing of a night time. So when it came to planning the dessert portion, I started hunting for something that would feel more on the refreshing side. Dessert-induced food comas are just less fun at lunch time.

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I immediately decided on something citrus-ey. The rest of the dessert followed from there and focussed largely on taking quite sweet things and balancing them to make them feel much less so.

The first step is the panna cotta. Always a favourite dessert, in part because it is almost criminally simple to make. It simply involved throwing the ingredients in a pot, cooking them and letting it set.

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How you present it is completely up to you. I was planning on serving it unmoulded, having a strip of it snaking its way on the plate. You can simply pour it into a ramekin or similar and unmould it from that, or serve it inside of one instead.

I poured it into a square cake tin, then covering it with glad wrap. Laying the plastic down so that it connects with the surface of the panna cotta will ensure you don’t get a skin forming on top.

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Next came the mousse, which is almost as simple. I began by infusing the bay leaf flavour into the milk by simmering it and letting it stand first. You could use fresh bay leaves here, but I only have dried at home and they worked just fine.

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After that I reheated it and poured it and the gelatine over the white chocolate to melt it.

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Then I folded the whipped cream in and it was ready to set. Again you have loads of options here. I wanted spheres of mousse, so I used my cake pop tray. The handy thing about this is the little holes in the top that allow you to pour the mousse in. If you don’t have one of these you could use any other mould or dish you have, or pour it into a tray and cut/scoop shapes out later.

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Herein I apparently got excited and forgot to take photos of constructing the other pieces of the puzzle, but most are easy and can be made in advance. The rhubarb should be cooked right before serving, but it’s incredibly easy to prepare. You simply cut it up, sprinkle some sugar and lemon juice over it and bake.

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To plate up the panna cotta, I simply used a ruler to cut a strip of the panna cotta then arranged it on the plate. It’s pretty flexible and forgiving so you don’t need to be too careful about it.

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Accompanying the dessert is a vanilla tuille, a shortbread crumble and a raspberry sorbet.

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The sorbet happened quite by accident actually. I was going to make a coulis and forgot to defrost the frozen raspberries. I threw them in the blender anyway and instead it started turning into the love creamy sorbet/ice cream kind of thing much like the 1-ingredient banana ice cream. I decided that idea was much more fun and rolled with it. I placed it atop the salty shortbread crumble, which tasted all kinds of amazing and addictive.

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The panna cotta was amazing. It’s perfectly light and creamy, and the lemon hit cuts through all the sweetness. Perhaps too much so because you end up eating a deceptively large portion.

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The mousse was the real surprise. I had no idea how it would turn out as I’ve not used bay leaves in a sweet dish before, but it was amazing. It tasted much like the tea-infused white chocolate ganaches I’ve made, which has totally inspired me to combine more teas and herbs into mousses and other things. It’s worth noting that my mousse recipe has only just enough gelatine in it to make it set, which results in this lovely fluffy yet creamy texture. This doesn’t make it the easiest thing to unmould in the would, though. If you want to avoid issues unmoulding you can up the gelatine, but you will sacrifice texture.

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The vanilla tuilles can also be made in advance, but they will soften if left too long (or in a humid kitchen as happened to me on the day). This can be solved by unrolling the limp tuille, rebaking for a few minutes before rolling up again. It re-sets will its crispy self in the process.

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It feels like a lot of elements, but most of them are really quick to make and pretty straight forward. And they all marry quite nicely.

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I got 6 serves out of my dessert, but the serve did end up being quite a bit larger than the original picture in my head. Particularly the spheres of mousse, which I wasn’t intending to have dominating so much of the space but went with the size moulds I had. You could easily make this a share plate or halve the serves and still be quite content. That said, despite my initial concerns about the size of the plate, everyone polished off the whole lot of it after having two other courses.

Lemon Panna Cotta
Adapted from Emelia Jackson’s recipe

Lemon panna cotta

250ml (8.5fl oz) thickened cream

115g (4 oz) caster sugar

125ml (4.2fl oz) lemon juice

2 tsp powdered gelatine

1 tsp vanilla extract

 Bay leaf White Chocolate Mousse

6 dried bay leaves

125ml (4.2fl oz) milk

1 tsp powdered gelatine

1 tbsp tepid water

175g (6.2oz_ white chocolate, chopped

300ml (10fl oz) thickened cream

Shortbread crumble

80g (2.80z) plain flour

20g (0.7oz) cater sugar

50g (1.8fl oz) butter, chilled and chopped


Raspberry Sorbet

300g (10.6oz) frozen raspberries

3 tbsp icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla tuile

30g (1.1oz) plain flour

30g (1.1oz) icing sugar

15g (0.5oz) butter

1 egg white

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Roasted rhubarb

1 bunch rhubarb, sliced into 4cm lengths

2 tbsp caster sugar

lemon juice

Lemon panna cotta

  1. Combine the gelatine and water in a small bowl and set aside to rehydrate
  2. Combine the cream, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy based saucepan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil; remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine until it is dissolved.
  3. Line a tray or cake tin with baking paper.
  4. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the tray. Cover with plastic wrap; chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.

Bay leaf white chocolate mousse

  1. Combine bay leaves and milk and a small heave-based saucepan; cook over medium heat until milk begins to boil; romove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine the gelatine and water in a small bowl and set aside to rehydrate
  3. Bring milk back to the boil; discard bay leaves. Stir in gelatine until it dissolves.
  4. Put chopped chocolate into a bowl; pour milk/gelatine mixture over the chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted.
  5. Whip cream to soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of cream mixture into the mouse to lighten; fold in the rest of the cream in two batches until just combined.
  6. Oil moulds; pour mousse into moulds and allow to set in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.

Shortbread crumble

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/355°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Combine four and sugar in a bowl; rub butter into the flour into mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (or shortcut this using a food processor)
  3. Spread mixture onto baking tray; bake for 15-20 minutes, or until mixture begins to brown.
  4. Allow to cool slightly, then crumble into a coarse crumb. Season with salt to taste.

Raspberry sorbet

  1. Place raspberries into a food processor; pulse until raspberries are blended and mixture becomes creamy. Add sugar and vanilla. If not using immediately, place in the freezer.

Vanilla tulle

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/355°F). Invert a baking tray and line with baking paper or a silicone mat
  2. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk to make a smooth paste.
  3. Using a palate knife, spread tablespoon sized portions of the mixture across the baking tray making it as thin as possible (it’s easiest to do no more than 1 or 2 at once)
  4. Bake for 6 minutes; remove tray from the oven and immediately roll the tuile around a cannoli form or other circular utensil to form a tube shape. Allow tulle to cool before removing the cannoli form
  5. Repeat until mixture is used up

Roasted rhubarb

  1.  Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/355°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Place rhubarb on baking tray, squeeze lemon juice over the rhubarb and sprinkle with sugar
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tender

To assemble

  1. Remove panna cotta from tray, cut 2.5cm wide strips of the panna cotta, arrange onto plate in an s-shape.
  2. Unmould the mousse spheres (you may need to heat the mould to release the spheres, such as by running the mould under hot water) and place them on the plate.
  3. Add the shortbread crumble and place the raspberry sorbet on top. Arrange the rhubarb and vanilla tuile on the plate and serve immediately

5 thoughts on “Lemon Panna Cotta w/ bay leaf white chocolate mousse and roasted rhubarb

  1. I made this last weekend and it was delicious! Didn’t take very long to make (except for the three-hour quest to find fresh rhubarb) but everyone thought I must’ve spent all day in the kitchen and absolutely loved it. Thanks for your awesome recipes!

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