Somedays, I crave a dessert that is both beautiful and delicious, creamy and tart, intricate yet simple. On those days where I really want to impress, I like to choose something that involves beautiful layers of color and complementary flavors.
I love the creamy yet firm texture of a panna cotta. It is an incredibly easy dessert to make, easier than making vanilla pudding from scratch, so long as you measure your ingredients carefully (too much gelatin and the result is rubbery).
I also absolutely adore the flavor of passionfruit. I remember the first time I had passionfruit flavored juice (some blended thing by tropicana) and I had to have more. The first time I tasted passionfruit curd, I almost cried. Then I found out how very difficult and expensive it is to buy them up north in America. If I can find one at my local grocery store, they are about $2.50 a piece. For this recipe, you will need 2 cups of the juice, which is something I just cannot afford. (And that is saying a lot, because I break my budget for my culinary projects very often).
As is so often the case, I found a solution on Amazon. I bought a very reasonably priced bottle of passionfruit juice concentrate by Maguary there. I am sure the flavor of the gelee suffers from not being made with fresh passionfruits, but it did capture the flavor for me and my New England palate. One bite and I am transported to someplace tropical. If you can find and afford them, use fresh ones (Pass the seeds through a sieve and collect the juice; you will want 2 cups worth).
The final component of this dessert is a fresh raspberry sauce. Raspberries are my favorite berry, and the sauce is an electric orange-red that compliments the orangey-yellow gelee and creamy white panna cotta so well. The flavors meld deliciously as well, and that checked all of my boxes.
Admittedly, this takes a while to assemble, but most of that time is waiting for things to set in the fridge. While you wait, perhaps revisit the amazon website and get yourself a few things from off of your wishlist, as I did. (Only half joking).
I found that they kept well in the fridge, covered, for a few days after I made them, so make them ahead of time for that special dinner party.
1 Envelope of Unflavored Gelatin
2 Tbsp of Water
1 cup of Half and Half
1⁄2 cup of Heavy Cream
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Paste, or 1 vanilla bean
2 Tbsp of Granulated Sugar
Place the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Allow the mixture to soften, or bloom, for about five minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, half and half, and sugar. If you are using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise with a knife; scrape out the seeds with the back edge of your knife. Add the seeds and the pod to your cream mixture. Bring a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat off and add the gelatin mixture, whisking until the gelatin completely melts.
To ensure there are no granules in your mixture, and to remove the vanilla pod, if used, pour this mixture through a sieve into a bowl. If you are using vanilla extract or vanilla paste, add it now and whisk to combine.
Divide the mixture between four dishes (ramekins, mini trifle bowls, whatever you like). Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Recipe credit: Laura Vitale
1 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from an envelope)
1/4 cup water
2 cups passionfruit juice concentrate (I found Maguey brand on amazon and had a good result)
1/3 cup sugar
Combine passionfruit juice concentrate and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.
Sprinkle gelatin over water in another small saucepan and let it stand 1 minute to soften, or bloom. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is fully dissolved. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. Remove your gelatin mixture from the heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of the passionfruit mixture at a time until gelatin mixture is cooled. Then, whisk in remaining passionfruit mixture.
Pour a thin layer of the passionfruit gelee over the fully set panna cotta. Cover and chill until the gelee is fully set, at least 1 hour or overnight.
You will have extra passionfruit gelee.
1 1/2 pounds fresh raspberries
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or more to taste
In a high powered blender, like a Vitamix, combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Process until smooth,then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. Pour or spoon a thin layer of the sauce onto your panna cotta and passionfruit gelee dessert. Adorn with fresh raspberries and decorating sugar. Add a mint leave if you want to really gild the lily. Serve.
You will have left over raspberry sauce, lovely to eat with the passionfruit gelee with all manner of breakfast foods.