August 22, 2012

Milk Chocolate Cream Panna Cotta

Milk Chocolate Cream Panna Cotta

Doesn't that sound delicious?  I've been working on a good chocolate panna cotta for a while- and I've been through multiple variations.  I made it with dark chocolate and put it through an ice cream maker- (ok, but not great, although my son and I ate it after dinner for about a week!) but what I kept coming back to is that I'd like to have a chocolate panna cotta that tastes like really creamy, not too sweet chocolate milk!  This is it!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Panna cotta, which means 'cooked cream' in Italian is a very simple dessert, with lots of room for experimentation- either in the panna cotta itself, or the topppings.  You might recall I made one with goat milk and lychee syrup, which is also delicious and I highly recommend it, you may find it here:  http://ladolceduchessa.blogspot.com/2010/12/panna-cotta-with-goat-milk-and.html but if you're in the mood for a creamy milk chocolate version, this is for you!

Milk Chocolate Cream Panna Cotta
(makes 6 servings)
1/4 cup water
1 packet of unflavored gelatin (1 packet from a Knox unflavored gelatin 1 oz box containing 4 packets)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp sugar
5 oz milk chocolate
1 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate
generous pinch of sea salt

Softening unflavored gelatin
Place the gelatin in a small bowl.  Pour the 1/4 cup of water over the gelatin.  Set aside and allow to soften for about 10 or 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a pot on the stove, heat the cream and milk over low to medium heat.  Stir occasionally, you don't want it to form the 'skin' that milk and cream can form over the top when heated.  Add the vanilla and sugar to the milk and cream, stirring to combine.  Heat the milk and cream gradually to between 200 and 210 degrees Fahrenheit- you want it to be hot enough but not boil.  You can use a thermometer for this, or, as soon as you see part of the pot boil, turn it off.  Immediately add the softened gelatin and stir with a whisk, allow several minutes of waiting and stirring for the gelatin to dissolve.  This step is probably the most important of the whole process, if your milk and cream aren't hot enough, your gelatin won't fully dissolve and you'll have a grainy consistency to the finished product.

Milk and bittersweet chocolate in a metal bowl
While that dissolves, measure your chocolates and place them in a metal bowl.  I like to use a kitchen scale to measure the chocolates- I find I use my kitchen scale a lot!  Once the gelatin has had a few minutes to dissolve, pour the milk and cream mixture over the chocolates in the metal bowl.  This will also need a few minutes to dissolve and mix, using your whisk every minute or two to help it incorporate smoothly.  Add the salt.

Panna Cotta ice bath
You'll need a slightly larger bowl for this next step, we're going to create an ice bath to cool down the mixture.  Mixing bowl sets that have graduated sizes are perfect for this- I use two metal bowls from the same set for this.  In the larger metal bowl, place several handfuls of ice cubes on the bottom.  Next, place the smaller metal bowl with the mixture inside on top of the ice cubes.  Carefully pour cold water into the outer bowl (I use a measuring cup with a little spout so I don't splash water into the milk chocolate cream mixture) until it reaches about 75% up the sides.  Now, we're going to wait 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes or so with out whisk.

After the 30 minutes have passed, you may pour this into 6 small ramekins.  Don't have ramekins?  Improvise!  This would be charming in tea cups, juice glasses, smaller servings in espresso cups, or, you may  pour it into a rectangular small casserole dish, and then you can cut it and serve it in squares.  There's no need to butter the dishes before you pour it in.

Now, we're going to refrigerate it- some thoughts on that- sometimes putting plastic wrap on top of these vessels causes condensation, and then it falls onto the top of the panna cotta, which is fine, but can be unattractive.  It's not an issue if you are going to invert the panna cotta onto a plate to serve it, but if you are going to serve it in it's little cup or vessel, here are some tips.  Because we've cooled it down in an ice bath, you are ultimately in better shape to avoid this, and, if you place the cups in a larger, deeper dish and then put plastic wrap over that, you'll likely fare better.

This will be somewhat solid after a few hours, overnight provides the best 'setting' and will allow you to invert it onto a plate to serve.  To do this, use a sharp knife to loosen to edges, then invert on to a plate.  Enjoy!  I think you'll find this smooth, creamy and delicious!

1 comment:

La Dolce Duchessa said...

Hi there- I made this again this past weekend and have a variation I would like to share with you- if you have access to an espresso machine (we have a nespresso that we really enjoy), add a shot of espresso to this, it is really outstanding! I used decaf, since I am nursing our little girl and my toddler son loves to eat panna cotta, and the last thing I want is to give him caffeine... Anyhow, it's a great variation and is just delicious. It's like an iced mocha panna cotta! Happy cooking!