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.
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.
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.
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.
After that I reheated it and poured it and the gelatine over the white chocolate to melt it.
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.
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.
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.
Accompanying the dessert is a vanilla tuille, a shortbread crumble and a raspberry sorbet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
80g (2.80z) plain flour
20g (0.7oz) cater sugar
50g (1.8fl oz) butter, chilled and chopped
300g (10.6oz) frozen raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30g (1.1oz) plain flour
30g (1.1oz) icing sugar
15g (0.5oz) butter
1 egg white
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 bunch rhubarb, sliced into 4cm lengths
2 tbsp caster sugar
|Lemon panna cotta
Bay leaf white chocolate mousse