Tuesday, August 03, 2010

One of the 'puds' in fashion at the moment is Pannacotta. Easy enough to make as it is just single cream sweetened with sugar, flavoured with a split vanilla pod, brought to the simmer and then soaked gelatine leaves stirred in to melt and thicken the cream as it sets.

Yesterday, decided to have a go at a Shirley version (in other words cheating and less work) because I had a quarter of a pint of double cream that needed using up.
Well, I thought, packet jelly is just coloured and flavoured gelatine, so why not use that instead of faffing about with leaf gelatine and using expensive vanilla pods. So chose an orange jelly as the only other in stock was lime and didn't fancy that (sure I have some strawberry somewhere). Put this in a jug, covered it with water to the quarter pint level, then put it in the microwave for just over a minute to melt. After stirring, left it to cool while I watched 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. When cold, stirred in chilled double cream then stirred in cold water to fill the jug right to the top (so making more than a pint). It was already beginning to thicken, so immediately filled three good sized moulds and put these in the fridge to chill.
Once set, after dipping one mould in water, it turned out easily enough and you can see the result in the photo above.

Not a good pic, have to admit, the streaks are the result of the light shining on the 'pannacotta', as it looked perfectly even and surprisingly light in colour (expected it to be a deeper orange). Served on its own it is quite a respectable dessert, though the one above would have looked more appetising had it been on a coloured plate, or had a fruit coulis poured round and/or over it. Or drizzle chocolate across it the white plate in a zig-zag pattern so beloved by chefs today (and hated by Beloved) - setting the pannacotta on this.

This second picture shows my rather pathetic attempt to make the dessert look more interesting. First thought of using a Passion Fruit EasyYo Fruit 'Squirt' to drizzle over the top, but in the end chose chocolate as a 'garnish', so to save having to heat a piece of solid chocolate in a bowl over hot water, instead (for speed) heated a heaped teaspoon of Nutella in the microwave for 1 minute to make it runny, then spooned this on top, dragging it down the sides. Then just for fun dragged the 'drizzles' back and forth to give a marbled effect. Then took the photo.
After that put a mound of squirty cream on the top of, but it didn't improve the look, so didn't take a photo.

Then came the sampling. Have to say using the orange flavoured jelly was inspired as the 'pannacotta' flavour tasted rich and creamy with just a subtle flavour of orange. However it was set too firmly for my liking. A Pannacotta should be lightly set with a distinct wobble, so next time (and there will be a next time as it is so good) will either use less jelly (three quarters of a pack to make up a pint) or use a whole packet and add even more liquid (making it up to 1 pint 5 fl oz) which could be water or milk to dilute the double cream as the amount used was more than enough to make the dessert really rich. It probably would have been better (and cheaper) to have made it with single cream (next time I will use two thirds of double cream and dilute with milk).
Making just one helping is simple, just dissolve a couple of cubes from a pack of jelly in 2 fl oz water, then when cool, stir in some double cream (diluted with a little milk - or use undiluted single cream) to make it up to 4 or 5 fl oz, pour into a mould or dish, and chill until set.

The portion above turned out far too rich for me to eat it all (and that is unusual to say the least). So even just an extended pint would have been enough to make individual servings for 4 - 6 people. I reckon the jelly and double cream (counting water as 'free') wouldn't cost more than £1 to make this dessert for four. Garnishes extra of course, but then we may be able to have these in store anyway (as we would the jelly). As it is, still have half the above left to eat, plus two more in the fridge, so that will make six puds in all for me to work through this week. I may freeze one to see what happens.

It crossed my mind that a teaspoonful of Cointreau would have made this even more acceptable to the 'posh nosh' diners we might have occasion to entertain. So this is a cheat's dessert that has great potential and could be made with several different flavoured jellies. But do use cream, for otherwise it ends up as a bog-standard 'milk jelly'.