Lemon Basil Panna Cotta

• 27 August 2012

Let's start the week out right by talking about dessert, shall we?  I am a big fan of made-from-scratch desserts that aren't laborious, but produce delicious results.  I imagine many of you are right there with me...

Panna cotta, meaning "cooked cream" in Italian, is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  It may sound fancy-schmancy, but panna cotta is actually a simple Italian dessert that is surprisingly easy to make with cream, vanilla and other delightful ingredients.  If I'm ever eating out at a restaurant that serves panna cotta, I almost always order it; and considering the fact that panna cotta is almost always up against chocolate, I think that says something!  It's ideal with fresh berries, a compote or a coulis.

As an added bonus, panna cotta can be made ahead of time.  In fact, it'll be better if you make it the night before your party/dinner/event/etc.

Recipe for Lemon Basil Panna Cotta pops up after the jump.  Simply click "read more".  Enjoy!

Lemon Basil Panna Cotta

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
8 lemon basil leaves

zest of 2 large lemons
juice of 2 large lemons
1 package unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1 7.5 container crème fraîche

Lightly coat 8 3/4 cup ramekins with a mist of vegetable oil.  Mix milk and cream in a heavy, medium saucepan with a whisk.  Split the vanilla bean down the center and use a spoon to scrape the seeds out thoroughly (I like to use a grapefruit spoon).  Place the seeds in the milk/cream mixture, as well as the bean itself.  Next, add the lemon basil leaves.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium/medium-high heat.  Remove from the heat.  Cover and allow to steep for 40 minutes.  Remove bean and lemon basil leaves.

Pour the fresh-squeezed lemon juice into a bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the lemon juice and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes.  Stir the sugar and gelatin mixture into the lemon basil infused milk/cream mixture.  Stir over low heat until both sugar and gelatin dissolve (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the crème fraîche and lemon zest.

Place 8 ramekins in a casserole dish.  Divide custard mixture amongst ramekins (I find a very small ladle works nicely here).  Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, take all the ramekins out of the casserole dish (but keep them close by).  Fill the bottom 1/2 inch of the casserole dish with hot tap water.  Run a small knife around each panna cotta.  One at a time, place each ramekin in the hot water for about 1 minute.  Then, invert the panna cotta immediately onto a serving plate.  Serve with fresh berries (like the currants shown above), my roasted gooseberry compote or a berry coulis.  Enjoy!

images by me


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